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« I shall teach to souls 
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The ''Little Way'' of 
Spiritual Qhildhood 

<iAccording to the Life and Writings of 

Blessed ThSrise de r Enfant Jksus 

By the Rev. G, MARTIN^ Superior of the Diocesan 

Missionaries of la Vendee, Translated at the Carmel of 

Kilmacud^ Co. Dublin 

" Here, then, is a way which, without giving to everyone 
assurance of reaching the heights to which God has led 
There se, is not only possible, but easy for all. As St 
Augustine remarks, not everyone can preach and perform 
great works, but who is there that cannot pray, humble 
himself, and love ?" — Pius XI. 



BURCNis o^res & w^sh^bourns ltd. 


W. I E.G. 4 




F. Thomas Bergh, O.S.B., 

Censor Deputatus, 


Edm. Can. Surmont, 

Vicarius Generalis. 


Die 17° Septembris, 1923. 

Made and Printed in Great Britain 


Had Blessed Therese de 1' Enfant Jesus remained on 
earth she would have been fifty years of age this year, 
1923, which sees decreed to her the honours of 

Other young saints, it is true, have in as short a 
time had the happiness of sanctifying themselves 
and the glory of being beatified. But what is new, 
we believe, in the history of canonizations is the un- 
precedented movement to which her cause has given 
rise throughout the whole world. From every 
quarter of the universe, in fact, from uncivilized as 
well as civilized countries, from all classes of society, 
have come innumerable and most touching suppli- 
cations begging the Holy See to raise to the honours 
of the Altar the humble little Carmelite, who, on the 
last evening of September, 1897, passed gently away 
at the Monastery of Lisieux, without, however, hav- 
ing done anything remarkable in the ordinary sense 
of the word, and, at all events, ptactically unknown 
to her contemporaries at the time of her death. 

Such a movement, astonishing though it be, may, 
apparently, be explained by the extraordinary abun- 
dance of favours attributed to her intercession. But 
these favours in their turn demand explanation. For 
God does nothing without motive, and, above all, 


He is not lavish of His miracles without weighty 

In the designs of God the miracle is the letter of 
recommendation that He gives to His envoys in order 
to accredit them with men; it is the impress of the 
Divine Seal upon their acts and the authentic proof 
of their supernatural mission. 

Had then Blessed Therese de 1' Enfant Jesus a 
providential mission to fulfil ? Yes, and the shower 
of roses that she had announced before her death, 
and has never during twenty-five years ceased to let 
fall upon the world, is but the Divine signature cer- 
tifying her commission. 

The meaning and purpose of this mission Sceur 
Therese explained clearly a short time before her 
death : / feely she said, thai my mission is soon to 
begin, 7ny mission to make others love the good God 
as I love Him . . . to give to souls my little way. I 
will spend my heaven in doing good on earth. This 
is not impossible, since the Angels from the very heart 
of the Beatific Vision keep watch over us. Noy I 
shall not be able to take any rest until the end of the 
world. But when the Angel shall have said: Time is 
no more! then I shall rest, shall be able to rejoice, 
because the number of the elect will be complete. 

And being asked what way she wished to teach 
to souls, she replied : // is the path of spiritual child- 
hood; it is the way of trust and of entire self -surrender. 
I want to make known to them the means that have 



SO perfectly succeeded for mey to tell them there is 
one only thing to do here below: to cast before Jesus 
the flowers of little sacrifices, to win Him by caresses! 
That is how I have won Him, and that is why I shall 
be so well received.^ 

It is this " little way " of spiritual childhood that 
the present work proposes to make known. It is 
addressed to all seriously Christian souls, but par- 
ticularly to those whom Blessed Therese always 
called '' little souls," designating by this word those 
who, not being called to imitate the splendid achieve- 
ments of the great Saints, must for that very reason 
walk in the simplicity of the common way during 
their whole life. 

For the inestimable advantage of this little way 
is to put perfection within reach of all who are of 
good will ; to render accessible to whomsoever has the 
sincere desire of attaining thereto, the highest sum- 
mits of Divine Love. 

Two principal motives have inspired the author to 
write. In the first place, the wish to make known to 
a great number of souls desirous of perfection, but 
who often grow discouraged because they find the 
way too obscure and too difficult, '* a new little way, 
very easy and very short, by which to go to Heaven. "^ 

In the second place, a profound feeling of gratitude 
towards the lovable saint who during her exile here 

^ " Hist, d'une Ame," chap. xii. 
2 Ihid., chap. ix. 



below prayed so much and suffered so much for the 
sanctifi-cation of priests and in whom he loves to 
recognize his Heavenly Benefactress. To him this 
work is the ex-voto of his gratitude. 

One fear, however, there was of a nature to hold 
him back : the fear of misinterpreting the true mind 
of Blessed Therese by badly expressing her thoughts. 
But in the midst of the twofold family, human and 
religious, where this celestial flower of virtue sprang 
up and bloomed, those very persons who were the 
best able, from her early childhood to her last hour, 
to penetrate to her inmost soul have been well pleased 
to give to the author of these pages the assurance, 
most precious to him, that the true sentiments of 
their holy little sister have been faithfully expressed. 
It is only at their request that he decided to give 
this study to the public. 

His aim in composing it has not been to write a 
complete treatise on spirituality, but only to point 
out a particularly easy means of sanctification. And 
so there is question merely of what directly relates to 
the little way of childhood. 

But to one who wishes to impress his mind very 
deeply with the spirit of Blessed Therese de 1' Enfant 
Jesus, it will be most useful to go back to the foun- 
tain-head and read with care the *' Histoire d'une 

Finally, to complete our modest study, we strongly 
recommend the work that the Carmel of Lisieux has 



just published under the title : *' U Esprit de la Bien- 
heureuse Therese de V Enfant Jesus ^ d^apres ses ecrits 
et les temoins oculaires de sa Vie " (" The Spirit of 
Blessed Therese de 1' Enfant Jesus, according to her 
writings and the eyewitnesses of her life'*), and in 
which pious hands have arranged with as much art as 
love, and as so many precious stones in a rich casket, 
all that could be gathered of the thoughts and senti- 
ments of the dear Beata. From reading and medi- 
tating on it, the greatest profit will be derived. 




Author's Foreword - - - - v 


I. How THE Way of Spiritual Childhood is 

Founded on the Gospel, and in what it 

Consists - - - - - - i 

II. Littleness and Weakness - - - 9 

III. Poverty - - - - - - 17 

IV. Confidence in God - - - - 27 
V. Love - - - - - - 47 

1. the r6le and the importance of love 


VI. Love {continued) - • - - - 65 



VII. Holy Abandonment - - - - 87 

VIII. Zeal- 99 

IX Simplicity - - - - - - in 

Appendix : Formula of Act of Oblation to 
Merciful Love - - - - - 127 

The '' Little Way '' of Spiritual 


How the Way of Spiritual Childhood is Founded 
on the Gospel and in what it Consists 

It is one of the most consoling truths of our holy 
religion that Baptism, in regenerating us, has com- 
municated to us the divine life and has made us the 
children of God. 

*' Behold," says St John, *'what manner of 
charity the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we 
should be called and should be the sons of God."^ 

This idea of divine sonship is the basis of our rela- 
tions with God in the law of grace. The Gospel is 
saturated with it from the beginning to the end. Our 
Lord returns to it continually. When He speaks of 
God, whether it be to His Apostles in private or 
before the multitude. He gives Him no other name 
than that of Father. Thus, in St Matthew, in the 
Sermon on the Mount alone, the expression occurs 
sixteen times. 

Holy Church has not failed to notice this touching 
fact, and at the Pater of the Mass she takes care to 
point out that if she dares to use this name of Father 

* I John iii i. 

I B 


in speaking of God, it is because " God Himself has 
given her this saving precept and taught her to do 
it." This it is, she declares, which inspires her with 
the courage to say, ''Our Father who art in 
Heaven," etc. 

It is then not justifiable to doubt it. God offers 
Himself to us as the Father of the great Christian 
family, and He wills that every one of us, not only 
in prayer, but in every circumstance, shall look upon 
himself as His child and behave as such. 

I. — What Manner of Father God is for ns 
But in practice, what idea must we form of this 
Father in Heaven? Must we, whilst ascribing to 
Him this beautiful name, refuse to attribute to Him 
that which here below gives so many charms to a 
father in the eyes of the child ? I mean to say : that 
considerate tenderness, eager and vigilant, that deli- 
cate care of all that concerns the welfare of the child, 
and that paternal goodness, which, overflowing from 
a very loving heart, manifests itself in all circum- 
stances in look, word and gesture. And must we, 
by reason of the respect that we owe Him, represent 
to ourselves our Father in Heaven as a far-off being, 
so far away that He is almost inaccessible, impassive 
in the midst of His glory and so much above us by 
His majesty that it is just enough if, through pity. 
He permit that we give Him the name of " Father," 
to which name so much grandeur and such great 
distance would render Him, as it were, unresponsive ? 
Our Father in Heaven far away from us ! But 



how could that be, since it is in Him that we have 
life and movement and being ?^ 

Reason suffices to tell us this. But faith goes fur- 
ther, and teaches us that by the grace of Baptism the 
Holy Trinity as such dwells in our souls as in His 
Tabernacle — that God is in us as a loving father in 
the house of His child. Jesus has said : ** If anyone 
love Me My Father will love him, and We will come 
to him and will make our abode with him."^ 

Being so near to us and always so present to our 
inmost self, and being at the same time infinite Love 
and infinite Goodness, how could our Heavenly 
Father occupy Himself about us only indifferently 
and negligently? The truth is that His paternal 
Providence extends to the smallest details of our life, 
has numbered the hairs of our head, and without His 
consent not one shall fall. 

There is more. All that to the eyes of a child con- 
stitutes the charm of a father, before finding itself in 
the heart of man, has its source in the heart of God, 
and it is only because God has put in them a spark, 
as it were, of His own love, a reflection of His 
ineffable goodness, that fathers here below are so 
good to their children. I say a spark, a reflection. 
But what is a spark near a furnace — what is a pale 
reflection in comparison with the sun — and what is 
the heart of the best of creatures compared with the 
Heart of the good God ? 

Should someone object that, being God, our 
Heavenly Father has not the same way that men 
have of manifesting His tenderness, I reply that God 
^ Acts xvii 28. 2 John xiv 23. 



became man also in order to be able to love us with 
the heart of man; that neither death nor the Resur- 
rection has taken away anything of His human good- 
ness. He is to-day in Heaven and in the Host that 
which He was in the days of His mortal life, always 
most sweet, always most lovable and exceeding good, 
always compassionate and infinitely desirous of the 
happiness of His children on earth. 

In the Man-God, neither did the Divinity lessen 
the charms of the Sacred Humanity, nor did this 
latter weaken the attributes of the Divinity. This is 
why the idea we ought to form of our Father in 
Heaven is not only as that of the most loving and 
tender of earthly fathers, but as that of a father 
incomparably better still, infinitely wise and infinitely 
powerful, always ready, in the exercise of His Provi- 
dence, to put His Omnipotence and His Wisdom at 
the service of His Love for our benefit. 

II, — What Manner of Children we ought to 
be to God 

See then what our Father in Heaven is in relation 
to us. But we. His children, how ought we to behave 
towards Him ? 

For in one and the same family the children are 
not all alike. There are big ones and little ones; 
there are those who, according to their necessities or 
their temperament, live far from or near to their 
father, who have recourse to him frequently or rarely, 
with a simplicity and a confidence more or less great. 

Well, the good God wills that we behave in regard 


to Him not like the grown ones but like the very little 
children : Sicut -parvuli. 

The expression is our Lord's own, and He uses it 
in the Gospel with a touching insistence : 

** Amen I say to you, unless you be converted and 
become as little children, you shall not enter into 
the Kingdom of Heaven."^ 

** Suffer the little children to come unto Me, and 
forbid them not; for of such is the Kingdom of 

" He that is the lesser amongst you all, he is the 

He has moreover on all occasions confirmed His 
word by His behaviour, and no one, however little 
he may have read the Gospels, is unaware how Jesus 
loved to be surrounded by little children, and to 
draw them to His Heart and bless them. Thus in 
every way, by word and deed, has He shown His 
predilection for little children, not only for those 
who are so by nature, but also for those who have 
become so, again, by grace. For He has likened 
them the one to the other, mingling them in one and 
the same love. He so greatly loved the little children 
of Judaea, because to His eyes they symbolized 
spiritual childhood ; and in turn, spiritual childhood 
is so pleasing and so dear to Him because it appears 
to Him wholly adorned with the charms of natural 
childhood: "Suffer the little children to come to 
Me, and forbid them not, for the Kingdom of Heaven 
is for those who are like unto them." 

Now, ''when a master sets forth a lesson under 
^ Matt, xviii 3. 2 Mark x 14. ^ Luke ix 48. 



various forms, does he not wish by this multiplicity 
of forms to signify that he holds it to be a lesson of 
very special importance ? If he seeks in so many 
ways to impress it on his disciples, it is because he 
desires by one mode of expression or another to 
ensure their more fully understanding it. From 
this we must conclude that the Divine Master ex- 
pressly desired that His disciples should see in 
spiritual childhood a necessary condition in order to 
obtain eternal life.'*^ 

There is then no doubt of it. To make oneself 
as a very little child in the spiritual life is to respond 
to the clearly intimated will, as well as to the dearest 
desires of the Heart of our Lord. 

III. — What it is to Enter into the Little Way of 
Spiritual Childhood 

Such is precisely the aim of the ** little way'* of 
Blessed Therese. To enter into it is nothing else 
than to adopt interiorly the manner of thinking and 
acting of the little ones and to behave in all things 
with regard to our Father in Heaven as they behave 
with regard to their earthly father. It is to transfer 
into the supernatural domain of the soul the charac- 
teristics of childhood and to live under the eyes of 
God as little children here below live under our eyes. 

This simple definition enables us already by com- 
parison to form a sufficiently exact idea of the '* little 

^ H.H. Benedict XV, on the occasion of the proclamation 
of the heroicity of the virtues of Blessed Therese de 1' Enfant 



The characteristics of the child are, in the first 
place, his littleness and his weakness, his poverty and 
his simplicity. Of himself, what, in fact, is he? 
What can he do ? What does he possess ? Nothing 
or almost nothing. Therefore, he has no other 
resource than the help that comes to him from his 
beloved parents. Left to himself, everything is 
wanting to him. With them, he is assured of want- 
ing for nothing. From thence in his little heart 
there comes a sense of absolute confidence which 
impels him unconsciously to rely upon them with 
simplicity for all that concerns him. He lives then 
without preoccupation and without fear, wholly sur- 
rendered to their care. This is abandonment.^ 

To the confidence of this cherished little being, the 
parents respond with unceasing solicitude and con- 
tinual vigilance to keep from him all that might be 
hurtful, and to procure for him all that may be useful 
or pleasant. But he is not ungrateful. He wishes, 
therefore, to repay them in his own way. And his 
way is very simple, yet at the same time so excellent 
that it suffices to compensate his parents amply for 
all their goodness to him. He is incapable of, he has 
no knowledge of anything save to love. But he 
loves in all sincerity, simply, ingenuously, with his 
whole heart And one may say that all his occupa- 
tion is to love. 

To become the same — little, weak and poor before 

the good God, to go to Him with our whole soul in 

unbounded confidence, and to surrender ourselves to 

' Him in entire abandonment, then finally and above 

1 The " Little Way." 



all to love Him, to lavish' on Him all the love of 
which we are capable, not voluntarily to let pass any 
opportunity of showing Him that we love Him : it is 
thus that the children of the good God ought to live 
here below. And it is to live thus that Blessed 
Therese de 1' Enfant Jesus invites all little souls who 
desire to walk after her in her *' little way." 

All then that they have to do is to assume the 
characteristics of childhood and live as children live. 

The characteristics of childhood, as we have just 
said, are littleness and weakness together with 
poverty and simplicity. 

As regards the life of the soul of a very little child, 
it is wholly concentrated in confidence, love and 

It is the study of these different virtues which 
enables us to enter into the secret of the little way. 


Littleness and Weakness 

The first mark of a child is its being small. 
According as it grows, the child ceases to be a child. 

The first thing to do in order to enter into the 
way of spiritual childhood is therefore to become 
very, very little before the good God. 

Now to be little is to be humble; to be very, very 
little is to be perfectly humble. It is to see ourselves 
such as we are of ourselves, such as we are without 
the Divine Mercy — that is to say, a mere nothing and 
no more. And not only to see, but to like to see our- 
selves such as we have just said and to rejoice at this 

For one may thoroughly know his wretchedness 
and yet be exceeding proud — witness Satan. True 
humility is not in the sight, but in the loved sight of 
our lowliness. This is humility of heart, the only 
true humility. It ought to be that of the little one. 

I. — In the Way of Childhood how much we ought to 
Prize and Desire Humility of Heart 

If then, Christian soul, you wish to become in 
God's sight a little child most dear to His Heart, 
begin by making yourself as small as you can in 
your own eyes. Seek to know yourself as you truly 
are. In you there is good and bad. All the good is 
from God; be faithful in thanking Him for it. All 



the bad is from you : profit by it so as to know and 
despise yourself. Because this inability to do good, 
these evil inclinations, this self-love, these failures, 
these faults have their hold in the depths of your 
being and result from your imperfection. Look all 
that full in the face. Be not afraid to open your 
eyes wide upon this great mass of miseries, and 
above all let it not sadden you, but rejoice in pro- 
portion as you discover in yourself new sources of 
powerlessness and new abysses of weakness. 

That is how Blessed Therese de T Enfant Jesus 
acted : / do not grieve, she said, in seeing that I am 
weakness itself. On the contrary , it is in that I 
glory, and I expect each day to discover in myself 
new imperfections. I acknowledge that these lights 
concerning my nothingness do me more good than 
lights concerning faith. ^ 

And feeling clearly that this attraction as well as 
this light came to her from the good God, she thanked 
Him as for one of the most precious graces that He 
could grant to a soul. She even added : The 
Almighty has done great things in me, and the 
greatest is to have shown me my littleness and my 
powerlessness for all good. 

Therefore, all that best served to teach her her 
nothingness was dear and precious to her. And as 
nothing teaches us more efficaciously than the ex- 
perience of our weakness duly acknowledged, it 
came to pass that her imperfections, far from dis- 
heartening her, rather caused her joy, especially from 
the day when she came to understand that there are 
^ " Hist, d'une Ame," chap. ix. 


faults (of frailty) which do not pain the good God. 
What does it matter to me^ she would say, to fall each 
moment? By that I feel my weakness y and therein 
I find great profit. My God, You see what I can do 
if You do not carry me in Your arms! 

Here assuredly is one of the most incontestable 
marks of humility. The truly humble soul is never 
surprised at her falls. What astonishes her is not the 
falling, but the not falling more frequently and more 

Does it astonish anyone to see a wee child fallen 
on the ground ? It cannot even support itself stand- 
ing upright, how then could it not make false steps ? 
But ordinarily when little children fall they do not 
much hurt themselves because they never fall from 
any great height. So also little souls. Their 
wounds are never very serious. One may say they 
are healed as soon as wounded. Moreover, far from 
being weakened by it, it even happens that they rise 
up stronger than before, because one experience the 
more has rendered them the more humble. Borrow- 
ing the language of St Paul, Soeur Therese de 
r Enfant Jesus loved to say : // is my weakness that 
makes all my strength.^ 

Thus speak all souls who have understood and 
appreciated humility of heart. 

^ IIP lettre k la R.M. Agnes de Jesus. 



II. — How Humility of Heart, which is the Secret of 
Strength for the Very Little One, Introduces him 
into the Little Way and Draws upon him the 
Favours of Jesus 

But there are very few souls who accept without 
reserve this childlike littleness and who sincerely 
rejoice when they are permitted to experience their 
weakness and their helplessness. 

The majority willingly enough recognize them- 
selves as weak, but up to a certain point. And often, 
too often, they wish also to preserve consciousness of 
their own strength. When all goes in accordance 
with their desires and they feel generous and well- 
disposed, willingly they believe, like the Psalmist in 
the midst of abundance, that nothing will cast them 
down. But if, an hour later, distaste, weariness or 
some particular difficulty arise, they imagine that 
all is lost. And indeed one sees them totter and 
fall — first into imperfections and then discourage- 

These souls have not understood true humility. 
They have not understood that what constitutes the 
strength of the wee child is its very weakness; that 
the weaker and the more helpless it is of itself the 
more eagerly do we hasten to its aid. To a child 
more grown we do not dream of giving the same 
care nor lavishing the same attention as on one just 

In like manner does the good God incline with more 
love to the soul that He sees to be the least and 
weakest. Hear what He says in the Book of 



Proverbs : " Whosoever is a little one, let him come 
unto Me." But what is He going to do to this 
little one? Why does He invite him to draw near? 
Our Beata has already sought to learn, and it is by 
interrogating the throbbings of love of the adorable 
Heart of Him who is Father before all fathers and 
above all fathers, that she has found the response 
and discovered the secret of her little way: " As a 
mother caresses her child, so will I comfort thee," 
saith the Lord. " I will carry thee upon My bosom 
and I will cradle thee upon My knees. "^ 

Having cited this text she adds : A A, never came 
words more sweety more tender ^ to gladden my soul. 
She came, in fact, to find in them the object of her 
most ardent desires. She was seeking a very direct 
little way of going to God; better than that, feeling 
that she was too little to climb the rugged steps of 
perfection^ she wanted to find a lift to raise her up 
even unto Jesus. And now the words of Eternal 
Wisdom have suddenly discovered it to her : Thine 
Arms, Jesus, are the lift which must raise me up 
even unto Heaven. For that I need not grow greater, 
on the contrary it is necessary that I remain little, 
that I tend to littleness ever more and more.^ 

These last words should be carefully noted and 
very great attention be given to them. For they 
contain one of the most important secrets of the life 
of spiritual childhood : / need not grow, on the con- 
trary it is necessary that I remain little, that I tend to 
littleness ever more and more. And here we must 

1 Cf. Isa. Ixvi 13. 

2 " Hist, d'une Ame," chap. ix. 



notice an essential difference between the natural life 
and the spiritual life. In the first, one cannot always 
remain little. There is a necessary growth which 
sooner or later obliges all to leave childhood behind. 
In the second, on the contrary, the older we grow 
and the further we advance the more necessary is it 
that we become little. Here the steps forward are 
marked principally by the progress in humility — - 
that is to say, the perception clearer and clearer, and 
ever more dear, of our nothingness ; so that the more 
the soul loves to see herself weak and miserable the 
more fit is she for the operations of consuming and 
transforming Love. 

The more does Jesus love her : What pleases Jesus 
in my little soul is to see me love my littleness and my 
poverty^ it is seeing the blind trust that I have in 
His mercy. ^ 

The more does Jesus enlighten her : Because I was 
little and weaky Jesus stooped down to me and ten- 
derly instructed me in the secrets of His love.^ 

The more confidence ought she to have in the all- 
powerful action of Jesus in her : It was Jesus who did 
all in me^ and I — / did nothing but be little and weak. 

We shall see by what follows that this interior work 
of Jesus in the soul does not dispense her from per- 
sonal effort. On the contrary, having become a 
little child in regard to the good God, she must seek 
every opportunity of pleasing her Father in Heaven 
by her generosity. But we speak here of the funda- 
mental disposition of the life of childhood which 

1 VP lettre a Sr. Marie du S. Coeur. 

2 " Hist, d'une Ame," chap. v. 



consists, before all, in a state of littleness and weak- 
ness recognized, sought after, loved. And that is 
why we insist so much on this point. 

Let us also observe that this state is always pos- 
sible at any age and in all positions in life. For, as 
Blessed Therese asserted, it is quite possible to remain 
little even in filling the most important offices, and 
even on attaining extreme old age. As for me, she 
said, if I lived eighty years, having filled all the 
offices, I should, I feel certain, be quite as little at the 
time of my death as I am to-day. 

This remark was not without profit. It proves 
that the little way is suited to all the stages of life 
as well as to all conditions. It is never too late to 
enter it. It is never time to leave it. 




The second characteristic mark of the life of child- 
hood is Poverty. In the eyes of Blessed Therese de 
r Enfant Jesus, spiritual poverty was of very great 
importance; accordingly she assigned to it a place of 
quite first rank in the heart of the little ones. 

Nature, moreover, will so have it. Even amongst 
the rich, the child possesses nothing of his own. 
Everything belongs to his parents, who themselves 
give him what is necessary according to his needs. 
After his example, the soul who enters into the way 
of spiritual childhood must look upon herself as 
possessing nothing of her own. 

I. — The Spirit of Poverty Shelters the Soul from Want 
by Accustoming her to look to the Good God for 
All Things 

This, in the opinion of Blessed Therese, was the 
surest means of never wanting for anything. She 
drew her conclusions from what takes place amongst 
the poor. Even in the homes of the poor, she ex- 
plained, they give to the little child what is necessary 
for him. But when he has grown up his father will 
maintain him no longer, and says to him: Now work, 
you can provide for yourself. Well, it was to escape 
ever hearing that, she added, that I have never 
wished to grow up, feeling myself incapable of earn- 
ing my living, the eternal life of Heaven. For I 

17 C 


have never been able to do anything of myself alone. 
I have then always remained little, having no other 
occupation than that of gathering the flowers of love 
and 'sacrifice and offering them to the good God for 
His pleasure.'^ 

One could not reason better, nor more lovingly, 
nor more wisely. Just now the child of Providence 
was saying to her Father in Heaven: '* I can do 
nothing ; be Thou my strength ! ' ' Now she adds : "I 
have nothing ; be Thou my wealth !" After that, how 
could a father so good and so rich as is the good 
God leave her in want, while earthly fathers, so far 
behind His divine goodness, take so much pleasure 
in granting the least desires of their little children ? 

In like manner, the soul who realizes her poverty, 
who sees herself to be without virtue and without 
courage, incapable of any good, powerless in the face 
of the least sacrifice or of the least temptation, and 
who sincerely recognizes it, has but to turn trustfully 
to Him whose goodness supplies for all. A cry from 
her heart, a word, a gesture, a look will suffice, the 
simplest prayer being always best. And the Father 
who from the heights of Heaven looks lovingly on 
all that is little and humble will come to the help of 
His child. 

From this it follows that the child's surest means 
of lacking nothing is to possess nothing and to expect 
all from the good God. 

^ " Conseils et Souvenirs." 



II. — But we must await Everything from Day to Day 
and even from Moment to Moment 

A father only gives to his child what is necessary 
or useful for him at the moment. One does not 
usually present an entire big loaf of bread to a wee 
child, but only as much of it as is needful to appease 
his hunger. Again, one does not put him in pos- 
session of a whole wardrobe of linen. One gives 
him what is necessary day by day. And it is thus 
that the good God acts in regard to His little child. 

Unfortunately there are few souls who resign them- 
selves to receiving only little by little and from 
moment to moment the assistance of their Father in 
Heaven. They would prefer to be enriched all at 
once. That is because we so love to see ourselves 
with provision for the future. This is true of worldly 
people from the temporal point of view, and it is 
true of a multitude of souls from the spiritual point 
of view. *'I do wish,*' they say, "to count upon 
God, but would that I were able also to count upon 
myself. Would that I could ascertain my progress, 
render account to myself of the good that I do; in 
short, see myself in possession of a real spiritual for- 
tune that I should be able to handle as one handles 
fine clear-ringing crowns. What security that would 
give me for the future ! * ' 

But no, that is false reckoning. There is no 
security that can preserve from one single sin, nor 
give strength to accomplish the very lightest sacri- 
fice but the grace of God alone. And God does not 
give His grace in advance. Is not this grace called 



actual grace, to denote that it is given only at the 
moment of need ? And it is necessary that the gift 
of it be renewed at every moment. 

Many a time have 1 noticed, wrote Blessed Therese, 
that Jesus will not give me provision for the future. 
He sustains me from moment to moment with nourish- 
ment that is ever new. I find it in me without know- 
ing how it is there. I believe quite simply that it is 
Jesus Himself, hidden in the depths of my poor little 
heart, who acts in me in a mysterious manner, and 
inspires me with all He wills me to do at the moment.^ 

Again, she said : Let us deem ourselves of the 
number of quite little souls whom the good God must 
every moment sustain. 

Now, God wills that we should ask this grace of 
Him just as He gives it day by day, the better to 
keep us in dependence upon Him and to oblige us to 
have recourse to Him continually. It is not the 
bread of the whole year, but the bread of each day 
that He has taught us to ask for : " Give us this day 
our daily bread.'* 

Thus thought and thus prayed the ''little 
Therese '* : 

What matters it to me, Lord, if the future sombre be — 
To pray Thee for the morrow, ah, no, not there my way. 
Keep Thou my heart pure, let Thy shadow cover me 
Only for this one day. ^ 

In this manner, the soul can practise spiritual 
poverty though all the while loaded with graces and, 

^ " Hist, d'une Ame," chap. viii. 
2 " Mon chant d'aujourd'hui." 



as it were, bowed down under the weight of the riches 
of Heaven. And the avowal that she humbly makes 
before God of her poverty, in a measure forces her 
good Father in Heaven to open to her yet more fully 
His Divine treasures. 

III. — It is Necessary that the Gifts of God be Received 
and Kept without the Spirit of Ownership 

Nevertheless, these treasures entrusted to the hands 
of the child remain always the treasures of the good 
God, and the good God who is master of them 
retains, it is evident, the right to take them back. 
This is true of supernatural gifts of grace and 
of virtues; it is true also of natural gifts, such 
as health, intellect, situations, employments, etc. 
Therefore the truly poor in spirit remains perfectly 

Now, wrote the Blessed Therese towards the end 
of her life, / have received the grace to be no more 
attached to the goods of mind and heart than to 
those of the earth.^ 

In the Old Testament, Job had given an admirable 
example of this perfect detachment, and his words 
are well known : ' * The Lord gave and the Lord hath 
taken away" (he was speaking of his goods, of his 
children, of his health), ** blessed be the name of the 
Lord." 2 

Not less, and perhaps even more beautiful still, is 

^ " Hist, d'une Ame," chap. x. 
* Job i 21. 



the prayer of the ' * little Therese ' ' to her Mother in 
Heaven : 

All that He hath given me may Jesus take again. 

O tell Him never must He feel in aught constrained with 

me. . . . 

^^ Job accepted with resignation what the Divine Will 
f'liad ordained. Blessed ''little Therese'* anticipates 
this holy Will; no|; only will she let herself be 
despoiled, but she does not wish that fesus should 
feel any hesitation about doing it; she wishes that 
He should consult only His Divine good pleasure. 

And see here how already in the practice of poverty 
all the delicacy of her childlike heart manifests itself. 

Little souls y you who also aspire to the perfection 
of spiritual childhood ; following the example of your 
lovable model, let your Father in Heaven by turns 
enrich you or seem to despoil you. Cling to nothing 
as much as to Him. May His holy Will be dearer 
to you than all His gifts. Thus will you be truly 
poor in spirit, poor in appearance, but in reality rich. 
Thus you will imitate the tiny child who regards his 
mother with the same love whether she puts on or 
takes off his holiday frock. For that which he loves 
is not what is given him or taken from him, but the 
hand that gives, or takes away. He feels that he is 
loved. He feels that all is for his good. And that 

IV. — We must remain Poor for Life 

Blessed "little Therese" has already told us, in 
speaking of humility, that one can quite well remain 
little even on attaining extreme old age. 



On the subject of poverty she has written the same 
thing : As for me, if I live to be eighty, I shall be 
always just as poor. I know not how to save up: all 
I have I spend immediately to purchase souls. ^ 

But acting thus, one may question what will remain 
to the soul at the close of life wherewith to purchase 

To this objection our Beata replies with her naive 
and childlike confidence : / shall have no zvorks of 
mine. Well, the good God will reward me accord- 
ing to His own works. 

Howsoever strange it may appear to one who has 
not entered into this way of loving confidence in God, 
this is why she desired to appear before the good God 
zvith hands empty, having instead of all riches 
nothing but the humble acceptance of her destitution. 

These words, in truth, call for some explanation. 

When Blessed Therese tells us that she will have 
no personal works to present to the good God at her 
last hour, and that she wishes to appear before Him 
with empty hands, she does not intend to teach the 
uselessness of good works. To interpret her thus 
would be completely to distort her thought. Her 
piety, as we shall see in the course of this study, 
was most active. She would not have been willing 
to lose even a very trifling opportunity of practising 
virtue. But what she did was not done in order to 
store up merit in view of eternity; it was solely for 
the good pleasure of Jesus, to whom she gave up all 
her good works as soon as performed in order to 
purchase souls for Him. 

^ " Conseils et Souvenirs." 


She called that : *' to play '* at the bank of Love. 
This, then, was not indolence or carelessness on her 
part, but great wisdom. For when one knows the 
Heart of the good God one cannot doubt about the 
excellence of the investment. Did not St Teresa of 
Avila say that if one gives Him a maravedi He 
immediately returns a hundred ducats ? 

It was not, however, this hope of profit that guided 
our Beata. She had too much of disinterestedness 
to be inspired by that. But in her filial confidence 
she believed that at her last hour Jesus, seeing her 
come to Him with empty hands, after having ex- 
pended everything for souls, would be Himself her 
holiness, and clothing her with His own merits 
would render her holy for eternity. She hoped thus 
to receive the eternal possession of God, not as the 
recompense of her own works, but from the sole love 
of Jesus. And as regards throne and crown, she 
wanted none but the good God alone. 

That being so, she had no need to be preoccupied 
about amassing riches. Her treasure was already in 
the hands of her Father in Heaven. To obtain it 
one day, it would suffice for her to imitate little 
children who, assured of the paternal inheritance, 
are content with loving their fond father and fully 
rely upon him for the care of their future. 

So poverty and humility go together and walk side 
by side the whole length of the little way. The per- 
fection that one practises therein does not consist in 
growing greater but in tending ever more and more 
to littleness, nor in enriching oneself but in remain- 
ing always poor. And we must accept the being 



poor and weak; but better still, we must love to be 
so until death. 

V. — Consequences of the Preceding in Relation to the 
Forgetting of Creatures and of Self 

A poor child does not hold an important place in 
the world. Outside his parents, very few trouble 
themselves about him or notice him. 

A little soul walking along in the little way must 
also accept with joy the neglect of fellow-creatures. 

May all creatures be nothing to me, and I nothing 
to theniy had the Beata exclaimed on the day of her 
religious Profession. . . . May none concern them- 
selves about me; may I be forgotten, trodden under 
foot as a little grain of sand.^ 

She, then, placed her happiness and her glory in 
being forgotten. 

She went further, she made herself so little in her 
own eyes that she came to lose sight of herself. / 
wish to be forgotten, she had said, not by fellow- 
creatures only, but also by self, so as no longer to 
have any desire exce-pt to love the good God. 

Thus did she bring herself to nothing. In this 
she was the faithful imitator of Him who came upon 
earth to be annihilated. And therein consists the 
perfection of humility for the very little ones : to 
become less than nothing, so little that we come to 
lose sight of self, to forget self always in order to 
have but one thought in the mind, one desire in the 
heart — the love of the good God. 

^ " Hist, d'une Ame," chap. viii. 


No one can walk at his ease if he be encumbered 
with baggage, but he who has got rid of everything 
runs easily. This is why humility and poverty so 
well fit a soul to walk after Jesus, who left all things, 
keeping only His Cross in order to ascend Calvary. 
And for this reason Blessed Therese could sing : 

To the Heart Divine with tend'rest love o'er/lowing, 
.All have I given that I had to give . . . 
Swiftly I run, none other riches knowing, 
Only on love to live. 



Confidence in God 

Small and weak, destitute of all things, the child, 
as we have seen, can do nothing of himself. But if 
the tender love of a father is there to supply f©r it, 
this very helplessness is going to become for him a 
source of strength. In what manner one can guess. 

The wee child would like to walk but finds it im- 
possible; his feet, being too frail, refuse to support 
him. Or again some danger threatens him and he 
seeks to defend himself. But what can his feeble 
arm do ? Happily his father is there. A quick look 
towards this father and the father has understood, 
has stooped down and lifted up his child. He clasps 
him in his arms and holds him to his heart. With 
what joy he carries him and with what love he pro- 
tects him ! And behold the little one become for the 
time being strong with all the strength of his father. 

Happy privilege of childhood which owes to its 
helplessness the being so quickly and so effectually 
rescued. Irresistible the power of a simple look from 
a child which no father's heart here below can with- 
stand. How could the good God withstand it. He 
who has created all hearts of fathers on the model of 
His own ? 

It is this look of loving confidence that He, too, 
awaits from His little child in order to come to his 
aid. True, God is so good that often, without being 
called, He hastens to help us. However, He comes 



with still more eagerness to him who calls Him the 
more frequently, usually proportioning His tender- 
ness to the confidence that He discerns in the sup- 
plicant look. Because for the soul, to look towards 
God, to have confidence or to ask, is but one and 
the same thing. And has not Jesus said : "If you 
ask the Father anything in my name He will give 
it you ' * ? It is in the same sense that Blessed 
Th6rese de T Enfant Jesus also said : We obtain from 
the good God quite as much as we hope for. 

It is of supreme import to the soul who walks in 
the little way of childhood to encourage in herself an 
immense confidence in God. This for her, from the 
point of view of her perfection, is an essential ques- 
tion. For, as we have said, in becoming a little 
child she obliges herself to expect everything from 
the good God. 

Therefore it is necessary that, from the outset, she 
establish herself solidly in confidence, and that by 
a very frequent exercise of this virtue she set herself 
to augment it from day to day. It is also necessary 
that she beg for this grace. Because a great con- 
fidence like that of Blessed Ther^se is a signal gift 
from God and the effect of His Divine liberality. 
However, if we cannot acquire it by personal industry, 
we can at least dispose ourselves for it by a great 
fidelity to grace and by the ardour of our desires. 

Above all, it is necessary to give to our confidence 
solid foundations. Let us begin by establishing 



I. — Foundations of Confidence 

It is not in ourselves that we must seek them, but 
in God alone, in His Love, in His Mercy, and even 
in His Divine Justice. 

Indeed, the first result of the humility of which we 
have previously spoken must surely be to rid us of 
all confidence in self. Once entered into this way 
of genuine littleness and spiritual poverty the soul 
no longer sees in herself anything of her own, except 
her nothingness, her misery, and her frailty. How 
then, on so clear and penetrating a view of the nothing 
that she is, could she place the least confidence in 
self? And there we see the signal grace and inesti- 
mable advantage that the life of childhood confers. 
It forces the soul to go out of herself, to look out- 
side self in order to seek the assistance she is in 
need of. But to whom shall she go if not to her 
Heavenly Father ? To whom shall she look if not to 
the infinitely good and merciful God, to Him who 
is all love ? 

First Foundation oj Confidence: 


For such is the beautiful definition that St John 
has given us of God, having himself drawn it from 
the Heart of Jesus on the evening of the Last Supper : 
''God is Charity.'' Now, all God is, that He is 
mfinitely. Therefore He is infinite Charity. Then 
God loves me, and with a love so great that it goes 
beyond all that one can say of it. He loves me, and 
there is in His love all that is the most capable of 



increasing my confidence : a tenderness, a goodness, 
a generosity, a desire to do me good, which are 

God loves me. And how should I not love Him 
since I am the work of His hands ? I am more, and 
better still, for I am His child. He has communi- 
cated to me His life in communicating to me His 
nature. He is my Father, my good Father, ever 
inclining towards me to watch and to provide for all 
my needs. But why do I say inclining towards me 
when He resides in me, in the innermost recesses of 
my being ? There, more continually and with more 
solicitude than I could do it, He thinks of me and 
occupies himself about me. His love which is un- 
ceasing is my sweet Providence. And at the service 
of this ever watchful Providence there is Omnipo- 
tence, always ready to intervene in order to second 
the designs of Love. 

God loves me; and to prevent my doubting it. He 
has everywhere written His love for me, in every 
place and upon everything ; in the star that shines to 
charm me, in the ray of sunshine that warms and 
gives me light, in the azure of the sky and in the 
passing cloud, in the fragrance of the flower, and 
in every morsel of bread that I eat, in my vesture, 
and on all the stones of my dwelling-place, every- 
where. He has written it plainer still with the tears, 
with the sweat, with the blood, at Bethlehem, at 
Nazareth, at Golgotha. And He Himself has re- 
mained, in person, by the most touching and incon- 
ceivable of marvels, in all the Tabernacles of the 
world, in order to repeat to me unceasingly, day and 



night, far and near, everywhere : ** I love thee. Only 
see how I love thee." 

It was at sight of all these marvels of love that 
Blessed Ther^se cried out : Jesus, suffer me to tell 
Thee that Thy love reaches even unto jolly. . . . 
What wilt Thou, in face of this folly, but that my 
heart dart u-pwards to Thee . . . how can my con- 
fidence have any bounds? 

And since all this love is for us, too, why should 
we ourselves set bounds to our confidence? Let us 
then enlarge to the full our hearts. Let us not allow 
fear to straiten them. And let us repeat boldly with 
Blessed Therese : 'Never can we have too much con- 
fidence in the good God — so good! 

Second Foundation of Confidence: 

Yes, it is true, someone will say, the goodness of 
God is immense, and one can understand saints hav- 
ing boundless confidence in Him because they are 
saints. But I who am so destitute of virtues and 
merits, so full of imperfections, I shall never be able 
to share their confidence; I am too miserable. 

Too miserable ! But do you then forget that the 
love of the good God for us is, above all, a merciful 
love, and that mercy is nothing else than that touch- 
ing and mysterious attraction which, filling a heart 
with pity at the sight of misery, impels it to help, 
as it inclines towards all that is weakness to raise 
up again or to relieve, to heal a wound, to forgive 
an injury? A compassionate heart goes out instinc- 
tively to misery — and with the more eagerness and 



love the greater the misery. For just as the heart of 
the ambitious never beats higher than when it sees 
new honours to be won, so, too, with the compas- 
sionate heart when it sees before it the deepest dis- 
tress to relieve. 

Well, such is the heart of the good God, and such 
does it appear to us in the Gospels. One ought to 
take this beautiful book and read it over slowly page 
by page. Oh what touching things we learn there 
of the merciful love of the Heart of Jesus ! We see 
there how tenderly He was disposed towards every 
form of misery, towards poverty and sickness, weak- 
ness and suffering, towards death itself, and even 
towards sin — sin above all, which is the worst of all 
misfortunes. We see that the more lamentable the 
misery the more touching always was the mercy. 

Blessed Therese understood this well; she who 
night and day carried the Gospels upon her heart, 
and never ceased to ponder them. A special grace 
had besides attracted her to them from her childhood. 
For very, very early she had a special knowledge of 
the Divine Mercy, and one may say that this was 
the great light of her life and the grace proper to her 
mission. No one, it would seem, was ever more 
attracted than she was to this infinite Mercy ; no one 
penetrated further into its ineffable secrets ; no one 
better understood the immensity of the helps that 
human weakness can draw from it. 

The Mercy of God was the illumining Sun of her 
soul, that which to her eyes threw light upon all the 
mystery of God in His relations with man. It was 
by its light and in this ineffable mirror that she con- 



templated the other Divine attributes^ and seen by 
this light all appeared to her radiant with love. From 
thence came the inspiring- thought of her spirituality. 
From thence came forth all * ' her little doctrine. ' ' We 
know in what that consists : 

Confronting the Divine Giant of Love and Mercy, 
she exposes the immense weakness and utter helpless- 
ness of a very little child, and in a transport of 
irresistible confidence, she throws him into the arms 
of Mercy in order through Mercy to surrender him 
wholly to all the Love, to all the Goodness, to all the 
Wisdom, to all the Power of God. 

We can judge from that of the role of Divine Mercy 
in the "little way," and of the idea which it is 
fitting we should form of it and of the confidence we 
must place in it. 

The life of a '' little soul " in Heaven and on earth 
should be understood as an unceasing hymn of love 
to the praise of Mercy. She more than any other is 
made to sing eternally the mercies of the Lord. 

Third Foundation of Confidence: 

But, someone will again object, in God there are 
other attributes besides Mercy, and some of them very 
formidable. There is Justice. 

The objection would certainly be grave if justice 
tended solely to severity. But it falls of itself when 
we consider that the property of justice is to render 
to each one that which is his due, and consequently 
to reward the good as well as to punish the evil. 

Moreover, justice to be equitable must take into 
33 D 


account good intentions and also circumstances which 
lessen the responsibility no less than those which 
increase it. Now there is in man so much of natural 
weakness, and original sin has added thereto so much 
of corruption, that before chastising him for his mis- 
deeds, God, through a sentiment of justice, begins 
always by considering his profound misery. But 
He cannot look upon that without being moved to 
pity, and so it comes about that His Justice itself 
excites His Mercy. This it is which explains the 
very different manner in which He dealt with sin in 
the Angels and in man, and how the same justice 
which in presence of the sin of the Angels imme- 
diately delved out the abysses of hell, in face of the 
sin of Adam began by opening abysses of love, in 
the Redemption. And so it is because He is just that 
the good God is compassionate and full of gentleness ^ 
slow to punish and abounding in mercy. For He 
knoweth our frailty; He remembereth that we are but 

Besides, since in redeeming us Jesus Christ has 
made grace to superabound where sin hath abounded, 
we have through Him an incontestable right to the 
Divine pity. Since He has paid, and far more than 
paid all our debts, it is no longer through mercy 
alone, but through justice that the good God grants 
us pardon. 

Such were the habitual thoughts of our Beata. 

Therefore, the justice of God no less than His other 

attributes appeared to her all radiant with love. 

She hoped no less from it than from His Mercy, and 

* VP lettre k des Missionaires. 



SO it is, that this justice which frightens so many 
souls was for her a subject of joy and confidence. 
In God she saw above all a father. And from the 
supremely equitable justice of a father infinitely 
good, what may a child well expect who no doubt 
sometimes forgets himself, but who nevertheless tries 
to love as much as he can and who feels that he is 
tenderly and deeply loved ? Severity or tenderness ? 
There is no room for doubt. If this father were ever 
so little unjust — ah, then the child would have reason 
to fear. From a father perfectly just he may on the 
contrary hope all things. And when this father is 
God, the justice being infinite, confidence, too, ought 
to be without measure. 

Such are the true sources of supernatural hope. 
How, after that, could we restrict our confidence to 
the measure of merely human confidence? How 
could we set bounds to it ? 

II.— Practical Consequences 

From the preceding principles spring several prac- 
tical truths, which, reduced to axioms by our Beata, 
must become familiar to every soul who undertakes 
to follow her in the little way. Here are a few of them : 

We have never too much confidence in the good 
God — so good.^ 

We obtain from the good God quite as much as we 
hope for. 

What offends fesus, what wounds Him to the 
Hearty is want of confidence. "^ 

^ " Hist, d'une Ame," chap. xii. 
2 P^ lettre a Marie Guerin. 


// is confidence, and confidence alone, that must 
lead us to Love.^ 

Let us dwell a little on these thoughts. This will 
not be to retard our progress. Our soul, on the con- 
trary, will there find strong wings to enable her to 
fly even unto God. 

We have never too much confidence in the good 
God — so good. 

The reason is that God is infinite, infinite in riches, 
in greatness, in power, as in love. He can give, give 
again, give always and ever liberally, and do so for 
centuries ; and after that there will remain to Him no 
less to give; for though He should pour down tor- 
rents of His gifts and graces. He loses not the smallest 
particle of His infinite perfections. He remains after- 
wards what He was before : infinite. It is His glory 
to be able to give without measure, and it is His joy 
to give in reality all that His creatures can or will 
receive of His gifts. The more they ask Him the 
more He loves to give. But if, in one of these 
creatures regenerated by Baptism, the good God sees 
a Christian, His child, if in this Christian He sees a 
soul who lays claim to nothing on this earth other 
than to please Him and to love Him, what limits will 
He put to His generosity ? 

The Heart of the good Master asks but to be 
opened to let the flood of His benefits flow out. 
And what opens it is confidence, above all, the 
simple and daring confidence of a child. 

It is not with God as with us. We very quickly 
weary of giving. He never does. We soon con- 
* VI® lettre k Sr. Marie du Sacre-Coeur. 



sider importunate whoever pursues us with demands. 
The more we ask of the good God, the better is He 

There are graces too that we scarcely dare ask 
for, because to us they appear too great. But that 
which in relation to us is the greatest is always very 
small in relation to God. So it greatly honours Him 
to measure our petitions by His greatness instead of 
by our nothingness, and in all our prayers to let the 
inspiring thought be of what He is, rather, by far, 
than of what we ourselves are. 

That is what Blessed Therese did. . . . She 
thought : The good God never gives desires which 
cannot be realized. What he inspires me to ask of 
Him is then that which He wills to give me. Again, 
she said to herself that little children have a right 
to be daring with their beloved parents. My 
excuse, she wrote in speaking of a prayer she had 
made and which might appear rash, my excuse is 
my title of '' child, *^ Children do not reflect on the 
import of their words. Nevertheless, if their fathers 
or mothers ascend the throne and are possessed of 
immense treasures, they do not hesitate about grati- 
fying the desires of the little ones whom they cherish 
more than themselves. To give them pleasure they 
squander money, they descend even to weakness. 

Animated by these sentiments, she fears not to ask 
for herself the perfection of pure love; she forms 
besides immense desires, vast as the universe, of 
which the realization will extend down the ages 
even to Eternity. And having formed them, she 
dares to cry out in the simplicity of her confidence 



that the Lord will work wonders for her which will 
infinitely surpass her immense desires. Events have 
justified her confidence. Her mission confirmed by 
so many prodigies bears testimony to it. And is 
not this the most convincing proof of the truth of 
her words : We have never too much confidence in 
the good God — so good? 

In truth, a remark here forces itself upon us, and 
these words call for an explanation. For one can sin 
by excess of confidence or presumption; and he 
would sin by presumption who, while wishing to 
continue to live in sin or in tepidity, should con- 
sider himself nevertheless as assured of salvation, or 
of attaining to perfection, on condition of supplying 
for his bad will by the excess of his confidence. To 
act so would be to fall into a very grave practical 
heresy. And that is certainly not what we wish to say. 

On the contrary, we suppose a well-grounded good 
will and one of those souls — of whom there are many 
— who, still far from perfection, unite to sincere desires 
of being all for God many imperfections and failures. 
It happens to them to fail in their resolutions and 
to yield to their faults; they fall; but deep down, 
their will to sanctify themselves perseveres, and 
they are always in the disposition to work at it 
seriously. It is to them we say that they may ^\n^ 
free scope to their confidence. 

We even say that they should not content them- 
selves with feeble desires, but proportion these to 
their needs, which are extreme, and to the Divine 
liberality which is infinite. 

If we obtain so little from the good God, it is 



because we ask too little. Our Lord affectionately 
reproached His Disciples with that: '' Hitherto you 
have not asked anything in My name. Ask, and 
you shall receive, that your joy may be full. If you 
ask the Father anything in My name, He will give 
it you.*' 

But we must ask. To ask, we must desire; we 
must hope, have confidence that we shall obtain. 
It is our lack of confidence which hinders the Heart 
of the good God from freely expanding, just as 
that of the inhabitants of Nazareth in like manner 
hindered Jesus from pouring out upon them His 
prodigies of love and His graces as He would have 

All the miracles of the Gospels are due to the con- 
fidence of the suppliants. Where it abounded, they 
multiplied ; when it declined, they diminished ; when 
it vanished, they too disappeared. 

Therefore, when Blessed ''little Therese " tells 
us that we obtain from the good God quite as much 
as we hope for, this is no novelty that she teaches. 
Her words are the very echo of the Gospel, and of 
twenty centuries of faith. 

We obtain from the good God quite as much as we 
hope for. . . . Was not Jesus also continually re- 
peating : " Have faith, have confidence in God. . . . 
All is possible to him that believeth ... he that 
believeth in Me, the works that I do he also shall do, 
and greater than these shall he do." 

It is not surprising after all this that our Beata 
should be able to say : What offends Jesus, what 
wounds Him to the Heart, is want of confidence. 



III. — Particular Applications 

But it is time to resume our journey in order to 
tend towards the summit of the mountain of Love. 

The same confidence which has given us assurance 
of one day arriving there, must bring us there 
through every obstacle. // is confidence, and confi- 
dence alone ^ that must lead to Love} 

Blessed Therese here opposes confidence to servile 
fear, and she does not mean to say that this confi- 
dence dispenses in the least with personal effort and 
generosity in sacrifice ; but that it ought to be power- 
ful enough to enable us to surmount all temptations 
to discouragement, filial enough to give to the soul 
every holy daring, firm enough never to slacken, 
whatsoever may happen. 

Let us briefly state on what occasions especially it 
is important for a soul advancing on the * ' little 
way ** to practise confidence towards her Father in 

1. In Relation to Past Sins, howsoever great 
and numerous they may have been. Once we have 
done our best to obtain pardon for them, the remem- 
brance of them should neither disturb the peace of 
our soul, nor impede its flight towards God. Let us 
hear Blessed Therese in one of the most sublime pas- 
sages that confidence has made to burst forth from 
her heart : 

It is not, she wrote, because I have been shielded 

from mortal sin that I raise my heart to God in trust 

and love. I feel that even if I had on my conscience 

1 VP lettre k Sr. Marie du S. Coeur. 



all the crimes one could commit y I should lose nothing 
of 7ny confidence. Broken-hearted with compunc- 
tion I would go and throw myself into the arms of 
my Saviour. I know that the Prodigal Son is dear 
to Him, I have heard His words to Mary Magdalen, 
to the adultressy to the Samaritan woman. No one 
could frighten me, for I know what to believe con- 
cerning His Mercy and His Love. I know that in 
one jnoment all that multitude of sins would dis- 
appear — as a drop of water cast into a flaming 
furnace. ^ 

2. On the Occasion of Daily Faults, — We 
must imitate the child who, after an act of dis- 
obedience, instead of running away from his father, 
goes, as soon as he has committed the fault, and 
throws himself into his arms to implore forgiveness. 
When we act thus towards Jesus, Blessed Therese 
assures us that He thrills with joy. He says to His 
Angels what the father of the prodigal son said to his 
servants : Put a ring on his finger and let us rejoice, 
and he instantly forgives. ^ As for the fault thus 
thrown with a filial confidence into the furnace of 
Love, it is immediately consumed for ever. No fur- 
ther trace of it remains in the soul. There remains 
only in the Heart of the good God one joy the more, 
that joy of which Jesus said that it is greater for 
one sinner who returns than for the ninety-nine just 
who need not forgiveness. 

What Blessed Therese taught so well, she herself 
practised with a delightful simplicity. She loved 

^ " Hist, d'une Ame," chap. xi. 
^ VIP lettre k des Missionaires. 



to confide to Jesus, to relate to Him even in detail 
what she called her infidelities, hoping, she said, to 
acquire thus greater sway over His Heart and to 
draw to herself more fully the Love of Him Who 
came not to call the just, but sinners.^ 

Who does not see what confidence, simplicity, 
and filial love such a mode of acting demands ? But 
also what a deep and loving knowledge of the Heart 
of God it supposes. It is only a child's heart that can 
understand to such an extent the Divine tenderness. 
We may indeed well repeat once more the words of 
our Lord: '* I confess to Thee, O Father, because 
Thou hast hid these things from the wise and pru- 
dent, and hast revealed them to little ones."^ 

3. In Failures, — When, in particular, it seems 
that, in spite of all our efforts and good will, we 
arrive at nothing, we remain always so weak, always 
so poor in virtue. 

Then is the moment to redouble our confidence 
and to look with more love than ever towards Jesus. 
When this gentle Saviour saw that the Apostles had 
fished the whole night without taking anything, He 
had compassion on them and accomplished on their 
behalf the great prodigy of the miraculous draught 
of fishes.^ Perhaps if St Peter had taken a few little 
fishes, the Divine Master would not have worked a 
miracle. The observation is from Blessed Therese. 
But the Apostles had taken nothing. Immediately 
the Heart of Jesus is touched, He is moved in an 
instant, He fills the nets with fishes. 

^ Notes inedites. ^ Matt, xi 25. 

3 XVI P lettre k sa sceur Celine. 


Thus does He often do for souls of good will who 
have laboured long at their sanctification without 
any apparent success. It happens that at one stroke 
He enables them to make more progress than they 
had achieved in several years. He asks nothing of 
them but to be humble and confident. For, says 
Blessed Therese, that is just our Lord's way: He 
gives as God, but He WILL have humility of heart. 

4. In Darkness and Aridities, when the soul 
feels herself as it were abandoned by the good God. 
For the way of childhood has its trials and its 
temptations, and confidence, which at first sight 
seems so sweet to practise, is at times difficult. Like 
every other virtue it has its heroism, and on certain 
occasions its exercise is especially meritorious. 

We must then remember that if God hides Himself 
thus, it is only through the playfulness of His Love. 
He wants to make Himself longed for and sought 
after. He wants, too, to increase our merits by 
obliging us to live on pure Faith. 

In such a case, it is necessary to unite patience 
with confidence, a patience proof against everything 
with a blind confidence wholly founded on Love. 
And we succeed always in winning back Jesus 
when we can say with Blessed Therese : He will 
weary sooner of snaking me wait than I shall of 

Being questioned as to her mode of acting in 
those hours of dereliction, of darkness and of tempta- 
tions against Faith, which were almost continual 
towards the close of her life : / turn, she replied, to 
the good God, to all the Saints, and I thank them 



just the same. I think they wish to see to what 
-point I shall carry my trust. . . . But not in vain 
have the words of Job sunk into my heart : ' ' Though 
he should kill me yet I will trust in Him."^ 

5. In Fears Concerning the Future, — Numerous 
are the souls that trouble and torment them- 
selves thinking of what shall happen and even 
of what shall never happen, and often they are all 
but crushed beneath the weight of sufferings fabri- 
cated by their imagination. Sceur Therese, more 
prudent and more wise, took refuge simply in con- 
fidence in God, and nothing could disturb the calm 
of her soul. For unalterable peace is one of the 
sweetest fruits of confidence. That is why the 
Psalmist says that "nothing shall move him who 
trusts in the mercy of the Most High."^ 

Speaking of the possible sufferings of her malady 
and the last combats of the agony, our Beata avowed 
that she feared them not : The good Gody she said, 
has always come to my assistance; He has helped me 
and led me by the hand from my earliest years . . . 
/ count on Him. My sufferings may reach their 
furthest limits^ but I am sure that He will never 
abandon me.^ 

6. Finally in Relation to Desires for Holiness 
Inspired by Grace, howsoever Great they may be, — 
For she believed most justly that the good God would 
not inspire them if He were not willing to satisfy 

^ " Hist, d'une Ame," chap. xii. 

* Ps. XX 8. 

3 " Hist, d'une Ame," chap. xii. 



And this, whatsoever our past life may have been, 
provided there be now the necessary good will. Her 
confidence showed her the infinite goodness of our 
Lord placing "the sinner and the virginal soul 
together in His Heart.'* 

In spite of present imperfection too. The fact of 
seeing herself so imperfect after so many years in 
religion did not in any way take from the audacious 
confidence she had of becoming a great saint. For 
she counted not on her own merits, but on the 
power of Him who, being virtue and holiness itself, 
would only have to take her in His arms in order to 
raise her up even unto Himself, and clothe her with 
His infinite jnerits and make her a saint. ^ 

From the foregoing remarks we may now judge 
as to the place and the role that confidence holds in 
the "little way.'* And we have no difficulty in 
believing Blessed Therese when she tells us : My 
way is all love and confidence, and I cannot under- 
stand those souls who are afraid of so loving a 

She did not wish to enjoy selfishly this wonderful 
trust in God with which our Lord inspired her. 
She ardently longed to share it with all souls called 
to journey by the way of spiritual childhood. To 
communicate it to them, to animate them with its 
spirit, appeared to her as her special mission, the 
one she would have to accomplish from the heights 
of Heaven, till the end of the world. For she was 
convinced that if souls weak and imperfect as hers — 

1 " Hist, d'une Ame," chap. iv. 

2 VI® lettre a des Missionaires. 



we quote her own words — felt what she herself felt^ 
not one would despair of reaching the summit of the 
mount of Love.^ 

And that is why the story of her life ends with this 
touching appeal: O Jesus! could I but tell all little 
souls of Thine ineffable condescension! I feel that 
if it were possible to find one more weak than mine, 
Thou would St take delight in showering upon her 
greater favours still, provided that she abandoned 
herself with entire confidence to Thine Infinite Mercy. 

^ " Hist, d'une Ame," chap. xi. 




1. The Role and the Importance of Love in the 
Little Way— Its Exercise 

We here touch the vital point of spiritual childhood. 
What the heart is to the body in the physical life, 
love is to the soul in the spiritual life. It is the heart 
which vivifies all the members and all the organs of 
the body; it is love which, from the supernatural 
point of view, vivifies all the powers and all the facul- 
ties of the soul. If charity does not animate works, 
they are dead. On the other hand, as soon as it per- 
meates them, it renders them living and meritorious. 
In that sense, we may compare charity to the sap of 
the trees, wherever the sap circulates, there is life; 
wherever it ceases, there is death. 

But the sap is not everywhere equally rich and 
vivifying. Its virtue is known by the abundance and 
the quality of the fruits, the most prolific tree of its 
kind always being the one in which the sap, more 
generous and better directed, reaches the fruits more 
abundantly to form and to nourish them. 

I. — Love, the Distinctive Mark of the Holiness of Blessed 
ThSrfese, is Pre-eminently the Virtue of Children 

Now what constitutes the excellence of the life 
of spiritual childhood and its great supernatural 
fecundity is that Love is its whole sap, and that this 



divine sap constantly tends to expand into flowers 
and fruits of virtue. In this life, all is love, all pro- 
ceeds from love, and all ends in love. 

Not that the other virtues have not in it their own 
place and their own importance. We know that 
Blessed Therese de TEnfant Jesus neglected none of 
them, and that she practised them all in an heroic 
degree. But in her, charity stood forth in the midst 
of the other virtues as a queen amongst her attendants. 
Charity held the sceptre; it directed and governed 
all — or, rather, it begot, bore, and nurtured all the 
other virtues of which it inspired every act. Still, 
not in such a way as to take away from them their 
particular character or to suppress the motives proper 
to each of them. But on every occasion it added to 
these a motive of love, which very quickly became 
the dominant motive of her conduct, and that made 
of her whole life one uninterrupted act of Love. 

In that way there was in the fertile garden of her 
soul but one plot in which the flowers of all the virtues 
germinated, sprang up, and bloomed, and that was the 
choice parterre of Love. Therefore, all the flowers 
that sprang up in it, of whatever variety, were the 
flowers of Love. 

Thus Therese was humble through conviction of 
her nothingness. But she was so, still more, through 
love of Jesus and to give Him pleasure. 

To win Thy love a child will I remain^ 
And self -for getting, will delight Thy Heart. 

She was generous because she understood that one 
must be so in order to attain to holiness. But she 
was so, above all, because when we love we reckon not. 



She practised renunciation doubtless because it is 
a necessary condition for spiritual progress, but still 
more in order to show to Jesus the delicacy of her 
love : // costs us dear to give Him all He asks^ but 
what a joy that it does cost! Let us refuse Him no 
sacrifice. He does so want our love! 

She aroused herself to confidence, of necessity, 
through the feeling of her powerlessness, but also and 
even much more through the natural inclination of 
her childlike heart. For the child loves to trust. 
Besides, parents, if rich, refuse nothing to their child. 
It is my title of child, she said, that gives m,e all niy 

Confidence leads to abandonment. But Love leads 
to it more perfectly still. In Blessed Therese, love 
was the special form of abandonment — love that sur- 
renders itself without reserve and without reckoning, 
because it is happy to surrender itself, seeing therein 
an especially refined manner of proving its tender- 
ness. While yet very young, she had offered herself 
to the Child Jesus to be His little plaything . . . a 
little ball of no value, that He might throw to the 
ground, toss about^ pierce, leave in a corner, or else 
press to His Heart, if it so pleased Him. In a word, 
she wanted to amuse the little Jesus, and to give her- 
self up to all His childlike fancies.'^ As we see, the 
point of view of personal interest in no way enters 
into such an act of abandonment. One motive only 
inspires it — to give joy to Jesus, to give Him pleasure 
at all cost. That is love indeed. 

^ " Hist, d'une Ame," chap. xi. 
2 Ibid., chap. vi. 

49 E 


So too is it with her zeal. Assuredly, the souls 
that are lost inspire Soeur Therese with great com- 
passion. But what she proposes to herself especially 
in labouring for their salvation, is to give to our 
Lord more hearts to love Him : There is one only 
thing to do here below, she would repeat — to love 
Jesus^ to save souls for Him that He may be eternally 
loved. ^ 

Finally, in her hope, what makes her heart thrill 
most sweetly is not the thought of the glory of 
Heaven. She leaves that glory to her brothers, the 
angels and saints, as being due to them by right. 
For her part, it is love that attracts her towards her 
eternal home. Oh ! to love, to be loved, and to come 
back to earth to make Love loved.^ 

The spiritual life, thus understood, is truly a life 
of holy childhood, modelled on that of little children, 
in whom nothing is of any worth, nothing operates but 
love. Powerless for all else, the little one is capable 
only of loving. But he loves, as he breathes, instinc- 
tively, without effort, and his love, which cannot mani- 
fest itself in important works, is at least conveyed by 
his every movement, by his smile, by his caresses and 
kisses, and even by his tears, when, frightened or 
suffering, he presses more closely to his mother's 
heart. The child is love only; but he is all love. 
And is it not that which gives him so many charms in 
the eyes of his father and mother, and even of 
those who would pass by unheeding, but who can- 
not resist the attraction of his childlike smile ? 

^ VP lettre a sa soeur Celine. 
2 " Hist, d'une Ame," chap. xii. 



And it is that, too, which in Blessed Therese has 
so gently ravished the Heart of the good God that 
He has become, as it were, incapatxle of resisting her 
desires and her prayers. She herself was persuaded 
of this, and it was certainly her intention to convince 
us of it when, a few days before her death, she said : 
/ want to give my little way to souls. I want to make 
known to them the simple means that have so per- 
fectly succeeded for me^ to tell them that there is hut 
one only thing to do here below : to cast down before 
Jesus the flowers of little sacrifices, to win Him by 
caresses! That is how I have won Him, and that is 
why I shall be so well received} 

In order that we, too, may be well received by Jesus, 
let us frequent the school of Blessed Therese, so as to 
learn from her how we must desire, understand, and 
exercise love, to arrive like her at the perfection of 
Love ! 

II. — How We must Desire Love and Accustom Ourselves 
Early to do All for Love's Sake 

All the most ardent desires of Soeur Therese de 
I'Enfant Jesus tended to Love. She looked upon 
Love as her special vocation : In the heart of the 
Church my Mother, she wrote, / will be Love! . . . 

And again : What I ask for is Love! . . . 

Jesus, I ask of Thee only peace! . . . peace, 
and above all LOVE — love without bound or limit p- 

1 have no longer any desire unless it be to love Jesus 

I ^ " Hist, d'une Ame," chap. xii. 

i 2 Ibid., cliap. xiii. 



to folly ! YeSy LOVE it is that draws me. I know of one 
means only by which to attain to perfection: LOVE. 
Let us love^ since our heart is made for nothing else.^ 

So the science of sciences in her eyes was the one 
that would teach her to love as much as she desired. 
To acquire it, no sacrifice should appear too great : 
The science of love! Sweet is the echo of that word 
to the ear of my soul. I desire no other science. 
Having given all my substance for it, like the spouse 
in the Canticles, I think that I have given nothing. ^ 

All the aspirations of her ardent soul are crystal- 
lized in these words: Jesus! I would so love Him! 
Love Him as never yet He has been loved. ^ And her 
last words were but the echo of her whole life : Oh! I 
love Him! . . . My God . . . I love . . . Thee. , , , 

Thus did she realize her dream : To live on Love! 
, . . To die of Love! 

At the close of her short life, reflecting on the 
graces with which she had been loaded, Soeur 
Therese de 1' Enfant Jesus cried out: O my God! 
Thy love has gone before me even from my child- 
hood, it has groiun with my growth, and now it is an 
abyss the depths of which I cannot fathom! 

Deposited in the soul of each of us like a 
mysterious germ, on the day of our Baptism, Divine 
Charity in us too wants only to expand and to grow. 
And how much is it not to be desired that its 
development be encouraged from our earliest years ! 

Happy the child whom a prudent and Christian 

^ Lettre a Marie Guerin. 

2 " Hist, d'une Ame," chap. viii. 

3 IV^ lettre a la R.M. Agnes de Jdsus. 



mother early teaches to develop that germ and to 
turn that great treasure to account, by accustoming 
him to obey, to pray, to be charitable, to make 
little sacrifices for love of the good God! Happy 
child of a happy mother ! 

But it is above all when a soul sets herself seriously 
to the service of God that it is important to instil 
into her the desire and the esteem of holy Love, and 
that it is useful to accustom her from the outset to do 
all for Love's sake. That will not prevent her from 
applying herself to the other virtues, and especially 
to those which are more necessary for beginners, nor 
from correcting her faults. On the contrary, it will 
be another and a very urgent reason for applying 
herself to do so with greater care and greater fervour. 
And let it not be said that, since Love is to be the 
crowning of the edifice of perfection, it would be a 
mistake to begin with it, as it is with it we must 
end. Yes, true it is that the perfection of Love 
must complete the edifice. But from that it does 
not follow that Love cannot and ought not to direct 
its whole construction. Let us begin with Love, let 
us continue with Love, and we shall see that there 
is no better artisan of perfection than Love. None 
builds more quickly, none more solidly, none more 
majestically, none more beautifully, because love 
makes all things light and easy, and because to him 
that loveth, as St Augustine remarks, nothing is 
hard, or if something be hard, love rejoices for 
that and labours all the more earnestly on account 
of it. 

Let us love then, Soeur Therese took delight in 


saying, let us love^ since our heart is made for 
nothing else. Let us love, and whatever degree of 
the spiritual life we may have attained to, let us 
not hesitate to enter on the way of Love, to value, 
to desire and to ask for Love above all. 

And the good God, in giving us this gift, will 
give us grace to understand it. For we may mis- 
understand it. But on this point also, Sceur 
Therese will serve as our guide and her way is sure. 
Following her we err not. 

III. — In what Consists the Exercise of Love 

How then in practice did Blessed Therese under- 
stand Love ? 

1. Always to Seek to give Pleasure to the 
Good God, 

It seems to us that we may sum up what she has 
said of it in this formula : To love is to be always 
occupied in giving pleasure to the good God^ and 
for that to profit by the least opportunities, and to 
put all the refinement and generosity of which we 
are capable into those little gifts of love which we 
offer to Him continually. 

She explained it as clearly as possible in the 
following words towards the end of her life : / have 
ever remained little^ having no other occupation 
except to gather -flowers, the flowers of love and of 
sacrifice, and to offer them to the good God for His 

^ Souvenirs inddits. 



This watchful care to give pleasure to the good 
God animated her constantly even in the least actions, 
dominating the other supernatural motives, exclud- 
ing all motive of personal interest. 

And she summed up in those words, to give 
pleasure to the good Gody the whole secret of holi- 
ness, not only for herself, but for others. // you 
wish to become a saint ^ she wrote to one of her 
sisters, that will be easy for you. Have but one 
end only : to give -pleasure to Jesus. 

The matter is well worthy of notice, and whoever 
wishes to walk in the little way of love ought to pay 
great attention to it. 

But the means of giving pleasure, of always giv- 
mg pleasure to the good God, where are they ? 

2. To Strew before Jesus the Flowers of Little 

Blessed Therese again will explain in a manner as 
luminous as it is pleasing; the passage is so instruc- 
tive that we must cite it in full. 

How shall I show my love, since love is proved by 
deeds? Well, the little child will strew flowers . . . 
she will embalm the Divine Throne with their 
fragrance, she will sing with silvery voice the Can- 
ticle of Love. 

Yes, my Beloved, it is thus my life's brief day 
shall be spent before Thee. No other means have 
I of proving my love than to strew flowers; that is, 
to let no little sacriflce escape me, not a look, not a 
word; to maJze use of the very least actions and do 
them for love. I wish to suffer for Love's sake, and 



for Lovers sake even to rejoice; thus shall I strew 
-flowers. Not one shall 1 find without shedding its 
petals for Thee . . . and then 1 will sing^ I will 
always sing, even if I must gather my roses in the 
very midst of thorns — and the longer and sharper 
the thorns, the sweeter shall be my song.^ 

As we see, nothing could be simpler than this way 
of conceiving the practice of holy Love. It is so 
simple that anybody can grasp it ; even a child could 
understand it; and that is not surprising since it is 
Love put within the reach of little ones. To love 
is, then, to act in all things through Love; it is to 
do all, to accept all, to suffer all with a view to 
giving pleasure to the good God because we love. 
Once more, what could be more simple ? 

Nothing either more easy or more practical. Any- 
one, no matter whom, can do it with a good will and 
the help of grace. And God never refuses this grace 
to those who ask it. And it is always and every- 
where possible, in all conditions of life and states 
of the soul, as well in aridities and powerlessness as 
in the midst of consolations. Listen to Blessed 
Therese discovering to us the little ingenious ways of 
her ever watchful love : In times of aridity, when I am 
incapable of praying, of practising virtue, I seek little 
opportunities, mere trifles, to give pleasure to fesus — 
for instance, a smile, a pleasant word when inclined to 
be silent and to show weariness. If I have no oppor- 
tunities, I at least tell Him again and again that I 
love Him; that is not difficult, and it keeps alive the 
fire in my heart. Even though this fire of love might 
^ " Hist, d'une Ame," chap. xi. 



seem to me extinct^ I would still throw little straws 
upon the embers^ and I am certain it would rekindle} 

3. To Profit by the Least Opportunities and not 
to Lose One, 

Ordinarily there are only very little things that the 
soul can offer to the good God. Has not Blessed 
Therese said, in speaking of herself : / am a very little 
soul who has never been able to do any but very little 
things. Now precisely because Love here disposes of 
very little things only, it does not wish to lose any of 
them : / do not wishy wrote Soeur Therese, that crea- 
tures should possess a single atom of my love; I wish 
to give all to Jesus. ... All shall be for Him^ all! 
And even when I have nothing to offer Him I will 
give Him that nothing. Truly, it is impossible to go 
further in self-surrender. It is " all for Jesus " prac- 
tised unceasingly; it is the soul persistently given up 
to all the exigencies of Divine Love, watchful for 
every opportunity of overcoming self, of forgetting 
self in order to please God ever and always. For it 
is a question of letting no little sacrifice pass. Not 
only will the little child strew flowers, but not one 
shall she find without shedding its petals before Jesus 
through love of Him. 

Not one ! Oh, how far that goes ! Only a great 
heart can conceive -such a desire : only a soul deter- 
mined to forget self always can realize it. Those 
little sacrifices, taken separately, seem mere trifles. 
But when constantly practised, what continual appli- 

1 XVP lettre k sa soeur Celine. 

2 VIP lettre a la R.M. Agn^s de Jesus. 



cation, what universal renunciation, what generosity 
they imply ! 

This is what has not been understood by some who 
have grasped only the fascinating side of the life of 
Blessed Therese. They believed that the "little 
way," so sweet and so easy does it appear under the 
pen of " little Therese," was a means of arriving at 
perfection without paying the cost. But no, it is not, 
and cannot be so. For there is only one way to salva- 
tion — the narrow way described by Jesus. And in 
that way there is but one manner of advancing in the 
footsteps of our Divine Master — which is by prac- 
tising what He has said : " If any man will come after 
Me and be My Disciple, let him deny himself, and 
take up his cross and follow Me.*' 

This is why, if renunciation and sacrifi.ce had not 
their place marked out on the way of childhood, we 
should be compelled to say that this way is erroneous. 
But the truth, on the contrary, is that abnegation there 
meets us at every step. What has given rise to the 
false impression is that Love, in transforming sacri- 
fice, has so permeated it with sweetness and invested 
it with so many attractions, that in it the cross dis- 
appears beneath the flowers. But the cross is ever 
there, and those flowers have cost much in the gather- 
ing, for often have. they had to be sought in the very 
midst of thorns and at the price of wounds very pain- 
ful to sensitive nature. True it is that no one noticed 
the child being wounded, because his suff^ering was 
ever accompanied by the Canticle of Love, and 
because the longer and sharper the thorns the sweeter 
was his song. But is not this the height and the 



perfection of abnegation, not only to suffer willingly, 
but to sing in the midst of suffering, and to sing all 
the more joyously the more intense the suffering, and 
to do so every day, constantly, from morning till night, 
even unto death ? 

4. Not to Suffer only, but to Rejoice for 
Love's Sake. 

However, everything in life is not unmingled suffer- 
ing. We encounter also good and lawful joys, some 
merely permitted, others willed by the good God. 
Must we then renounce them ? Or, if we accept them, 
if we concede them, shall they remain outside of Love 
as if they escaped its action ? And shall there then 
be hours in life when, with the absence of sorrow, love, 
too, shall be wanting ? 

Certainly not ! A heart truly loving could not bear 
that. Love is consuming. It makes fuel of every- 
thing, and all serves to intensify its flame. Besides, 
it purposes to leave nothing in the soul or in life out- 
side its influence. This is why, in the little way 
where Love plays so importajit a part, where it is the 
principal resource of the soul, everything, absolutely 
everything, joys as well as sorrows, can and ought to 
serve as nourishment for love. 

Thus thought and acted Blessed Therese. Besides, 
she knew too well the Heart of the good God, more 
tender than a mother's heart, to think that our love is 
not pleasing to Him except when exercised in the 
midst of suffering. What a strange Father He would 
be, indeed, if He were pleased only to see us suffering ! 
But no, it is not so. " Little Therese *' said on the 



contrary, that the good God finds it very hardy owing 
to His great love for us, to have to leave us on earth to 
complete our time of trial, and that He must rejoice 
at seeing us smile. And so, with equal happiness, she 
offered to Him her joys and her sorrows. 

She wrote : It seems to me that if we take Jesus 
captive by our sacrifices, our joys enchain Him too. 
For that it suffices not to concentrate on selfish happi- 
ness, but to offer to our Spouse the little joys He 
scatters on our path to delight our hearts and raise 
them up to Him.^ 

We may well believe that she attached great im- 
portance to this point of her " little doctrine," for she 
returns to it frequently in her writings, and particularly 
in her poems, where she pours forth the choicest senti- 
ments of her soul. 

My griefs, my joys, my sacrifices small — 
Behold my flowers. 

Let us cite also these words, which seem to us to 
sum up best her thought : / wish to suffer for Love's 
sake, and for Love's sake even to rejoice. . . . In that 
short phrase, " little Therese " depicts herself fully, and 
with a flash of light shows to little souls the road to 
follow in order to live on Love. 

5. In this ''All for Love's Sake " to be ever Smiling 
upon the Good God — Refinement in Love, 

Joys or sorrows, they are in general only very little 
things that a childlike soul can offer to the good God. 
So, in order to give them greater value — ^for in the 

^ IIP lettre a sa soeur L^onie. 


eyes of Love they never have enough — she desires to 
put into the offering which she makes of them the 
greatest possible tenderness. Such was the constant 
care of " httle Therese," and nothing is so touching as 
the refinement of her love for the good God. 

In the first place, she did not wish that He should 
ever have the least cause of trouble on her account. 
And because, when we love someone very much, we 
are always grieved to see him suffer, feeling herself 
loved by the good God, she strove in some manner to 
hide her sufferings from Him. To speak the truth, 
that could only be playfulness or an invention of love 
on her part, since nothing escapes the Divine gaze. 
But, as she somewhere remarks, when one loves one 
does and says foolish things. And her love, not 
knowing how to express itself, was manifested in this 
touching manner. 

Therefore, in face of every sacrifice as of every 
suffering, she had accustomed herself always to 

In the same way she smiled upon the good God 
when He tried her, and all the more sweetly the more 
He seemed to try her. And in that smile she found 
her purest joy. She made of it her Heaven on earth. 
She sang : 

My Heaven is to smile on the God I adore, 
When He hideth Himself my faith to prove; 
To smile — awaiting His return once more. . . . 
My Heaven is Love !^ 

She smiled on a penance which was particularly 
painful to her so that, she said, the good God, as 

^ " Mon Ciel a moi." 



though deceived by the expression of her counten- 
ance, might not know that she was suffering} 

She smiled on every manifestation of God's holy 
will : / love Him so much, she said, that I am 
always content with what He sends me ... I love 
all that He does. . . . My God, Thou fillest me 
with joy in all Thou dost.^ 

Neither would she have wished to give her 
Heavenly Father occasion to refuse her the least 
thing, feeling that that might cause Him even the 
slightest pain. That was why she never asked any 
temporal grace for herself, fearing lest her desire 
might not be conformable to the Divine good 
pleasure; and when obedience commanded her to 
do so, she knew how to arrange in such a way as to 
leave the good God perfectly free to hear her or not, 
assuring Him in case of need that if He heard her 
not, she would love Him all the more. Or else she 
would turn to the Blessed Virgin, who, she said, 
then set aright her little desires and submitted them 
to the good God or not, according as she deemed 

Someone perhaps may be inclined to smile in face 
of these refinements of Love. But rather, if he 
knows even in the least degree, by experience, the 
Heart of our Lord, if ever he has felt a little of the 
profound happiness that it is for a loving soul to call 
herself the child of God, if he has understood some- 
thing of Love, he will bless with his whole soul and 
thank the goodness of Him who, in His ineffable 
mercy, permits to a poor creature such loving rela- 
* Souvenirs inedits. 2 /^^^ 



tions with His infinite Majesty. He will implore 
for himself the grace to appreciate ever more per- 
fectly a mystery which is revealed to none but to 
little ones and the humble. 

Meanwhile, he will take good care not to condemn 
in others a different manner of acting in what con- 
cerns the desire of temporal favours, on condition of 
their not being an obstacle to the acquisition of 
eternal goods. The request for them made to the 
good God may be very pleasing to Him, and Blessed 
Therese from the heights of Heaven seems to 
encourage it, as the great number of favours of this 
kind attributed to her intercession testifies. But 
before her death, she took care to make known that 
in Heaven she would act as on earth, and that 
before presenting her requests, she would begin by 
looking into the eyes of the good God^ to see if it be 
His good pleasure.'^ 

And if now we wish to have the ultimate reason 
of so much tenderness and generosity spent in lov- 
ing the good God, these words, springing from the 
heart of ' ' little Therese ' * shall tell us the whole 
secret of it. 

At my death, when I shall see the good God — so 
good — who will load me with tender caresses for 
all eternity, and I shall no longer be able to prove 
to Him my love by sacrifices, this will be im- 
possible for me to bear, if on earth I shall not have 
done all I could to give Him pleasure .'^ 

1 Souvenirs inddits. 2 Notes inedites. 



Love (continued) 

2. The Divine Lift— The Oblation to the Merciful 
Love of the Good God 

When a soul has practised with an unfailing 
generosity and an ever-watchful tenderness what 
has just been said concerning the exercise of charity, 
it does indeed seem as though she should at the 
same time attain to the perfection of Love. 

But this divine love, which has incredible 
exigencies, has still greater wants. In vain doth 
the heart of a saint give itself, dedicate itself, and 
spend itself without measure; it is never satisfied. 
Never does it say : Enough. Already so great, it 
aspires to grow greater in some manner even to 
infinity. The energies of created love no longer 
suffice. Too much straitened within its human 
limits, it seeks to go forth and lose itself in the 
shoreless and fathomless abyss of eternal Love. 

But here it is no longer for the creature to act : 
his action must be effaced before that of the Omni- 

In the little way of childhood, this point of view 
of the Divine action in the soul is very important. 
Not that this doctrine is peculiar to our Beata, 
being as old as the doctrine of grace. But what is 
new is the manner in which she presents it to us, 
the very opportune application she makes of it to 
little souls, thus giving to them all, even to the 

65 F 


weakest, the means of reaching the highest summit 
of Divine Love. 

This is what we may call the theory of the Divine 
Lift, which, like every theory well understood, 
requires a practical application, which is the act of 
oblation as a victim of holocaust to the merciful Love 
of the good God. 

I.— The Divine Lift 

In order to understand what follows, some pre- 
liminary explanations are again necessary. 

All the supernatural virtues have their primary 
source in God, and it is His grace which, in Bap- 
tism, puts the germs of them in our souls. Those 
germs want only to be developed, and it is the end 
of the Christian life to make them grow unto their 
full bloom. The Christian is perfect when he has 
attained to the perfection of all the virtues. 

Now the virtues grow in us in two ways : either 
by our own efforts aided by grace, or by a simple 
effect of the liberality of God acting directly in the 
soul. The first requires much time; the second, very 
little. Because all things are possible to God, and 
His action, unlike ours, is not dependent on time. 
Thus He was able, at the instant of its creation, to 
enrich the soul of His Holy Mother with a plenitude 
of grace and virtues to which neither Angels nor 
Saints can ever approach. Thus also, an instant 
sufficed for the Holy Ghost to transform the Apostles 
into new men, and to make of these timid and 
ignorant men souls of light and of fire with an 
indomitable courage. 



Clearly it was of this wonderful and all-powerful 
action of grace Soeur Therese was thinking when she 
wrote : // seems to me that the good God does not 
need years to accomplish His work of love in a soul; 
one ray from His Heart can, in an instant, make His 
flower bloom for eternity.^ 

These words deserve to be dwelt upon, because 
they prove that in the judgement of Blessed Therese, 
the work of our sanctification is in the Hands of 
God before being in ours, and that its success 
depends more on Him than on us, since she calls it 
His work of love. 

Doubtless it is the work, too, of the soul. We 
now know enough of the sentiments of Soeur Therese 
to have no doubt about that. We know how far, 
in what concerned it, she carried her generosity, her 
tenderness, her spirit of renunciation and sacrifice in 
the exercise of a love ever employed in forgetting 
self for the sake of the good God. But although 
from the age of three years, she never refused the 
good God anything, it was not on her good works 
or on her present dispositions she relied to attain, 
according to her own expression, to the plenitude of 
Love. She counted on God alone. 

When, having in her heart the desire of becoming 
a great saint, she saw herself for the first time at the 
foot of the high mountain of holiness, she understood 
that, being mere weakness and powerlessness, she 
was far too little to climb the rugged stefs of per- 

^ VP lettre a sa soeur Celine. 
^ " Hist, d'une Ame," chap. ix. 



Without being discouraged, for she knew that the 
good God does not inspire unrealizable desires, she 
immediately set about looking for a little way 
wholly new, very straight, and very short, to go to 

Thinking then of those lifts which we see in the 
houses of the rich, she desired for herself also a 
heavenly lift. But where find this mysterious lift ? 
She sought in the Scriptures; she re-awakened 
memories of the past, and doubtless the thought 
came to her of that touching scene, which she some- 
where describes, of a very little child at the bottom 
of a staircase which he tries to climb, but cannot, so 
small is he, reach even to the first step. Then he 
calls, he cries out, he struggles, his mother hears him 
and comes down; she takes him, and carries him 
off. . . . The arms of the mother, behold the lift 
of the little one. Well ! the arms of Jesus shall be 
her lift. . . . For Jesus is more tender than a 
mother. He is eternal Wisdom. And it is that 
same Wisdom who has said : " Whosoever is a little 
one, let him come to Me!" And again: ''As a 
mother caresseth her child, so will I comfort you, I 
will carry you upon My bosom, and I will cradle you 
upon My knees." 

And it is in that, we believe, the chief originality 
of the "little way" of childhood consists, and that 
it is which makes it truly a way wholly neWy very 
short and very straight for attaining to -perfection: 
to put ourselves into the hands of the good God, 
and by force of confidence, love and abandonment, 
* " Hist, d'une Ame," chap. ix. 



be carried by Him, by means of a perfect correspon- 
dence with grace, to the highest summits of Charity. 
Thus it is God will do all. As for the soul, she 
shall do nothing but be docile to the interior move- 
ments which her Divine bearer will impress upon 
her, and her sole occupation will be to love Him. 
She will exert herself to give Him joy, whilst He 
carries her in His almighty Arms. 

We must, however, carefully note that she could 
not give Him joy if she were to slumber in an 
indolent quietude. The sleep of the soul in the arms 
of God does not exclude vigilance. " I sleep, but 
my heart watcheth," says the Spouse in the Can- 
ticles. I sleep; that is abandonment; but my heart 
watcheth : that is the part of the soul's activity and 
her correspondence with grace. Even at the highest 
point of abandonment this part of activity continues. 
It does not suffice to surrender ourselves once for all 
to the Divine action. As this action is continual, we 
must bring to it a continual co-operation. 

This remark was necessary in order to avoid errors 
of interpretation. But with this reservation, it is 
correct to say that, when the soul has taken her 
place in the Divine Lift, the only thing her Heavenly 
Father demands of her is to surrender herself with- 
out reserve to His Love so that it may wholly con- 
sume her, as also without resistance to His provi- 
dence so that He may guide her freely. 

The soul surrenders herself to Love by her offer- 
ing of herself as victim; she surrenders herself to 
Providence by establishing herself in complete aban- 



II. — The Oblation of Self as a Victim of Holocaust to 
the Merciful Love of the Good God 

Thus it is that the oblation to the merciful Love of 
the good God and the life of abandonment form the 
natural outcome of the life of spiritual childhood. 

Perhaps it may be useful to remark, first, that this 
offering with all its consequences is not, in the * ' little 
way*' a side-issue, a sort of accessory that we may, 
if we choose, add to the rest, but which has, after 
all, only a secondary importance. On the contrary, 
it represents, in the eyes of Soeur Therese de 1' Enfant 
Jesus and according to her sayings, the very basis 
of the sentiments of her heart;^ it sums up all her 
little doctrine; it is the most consoling dream of her 
life. Those are the expressions she uses when, at 
the beginning of the third and last manuscript, 
which terminates the Story of her soul, she broaches 
the subject of which we here treat. 

1. How Blessed Th6rbse was led to Make this 
Act of Oblation. 

How was Soeur Therese de 1' Enfant Jesus led to 
offer herself as a victim of holocaust to the merciful 
Love of the good God ? It was, no doubt, because 
the interior Master, Jesus, who loves to reveal Him- 
self to little ones and to the humble, Himself taught 
her this secret of perfection. 

But it is easy to follow in the " Story of a Soul " 
(Histoire d'une Ame) the progress of the interior 

^ "Hist, d'une Ame," chap. xi. 



workings which brought her so rapidly to this 
point. Like everything that God did in her, it is 
the work of Love. 

Two great loves, indeed, that which she had for 
the good God and that which she felt confident the 
good God had for her, mingling together in her 
heart, enkindled the one by the other, aroused in 
her from the very first an ardent desire of being 
wholly transformed into Love so as to be able to 
render to Jesus love for love — that is to say, to love 
Him, if possible, as much as she saw herself loved 
by Him. 

From thence that leading desire never to refuse 
Him anything; to strew before Him incessantly the 
flowers of little sacrifices; to suffer for Love's sake, 
to rejoice for Love's sake, to do all for Love's sake. 

But, as we have already remarked, what are such 
works to satisfy such a need of loving ? 

In a glowing page, traced in lines of fire, and one 
of the last she wrote. Blessed Therese tells us what, 
in face of her powerlessness, the ambitions of her 
heart were, and how, feeling in herself at once every 
desire and every vocation, she would have wished, 
in order to give to Jesus every possible proof of 
her love, to be able to fight together with the 
Crusaders and like them fall on the battlefield; to 
enlighten souls like the Doctors, and with the 
Apostles and Missionaries of every age to preach 
continually and throughout the whole earth the holy 
Name of Jesus, so as to plant the Cross on the shores 
of every land; to suffer, in fine, the torments of 
all the Martyrs and die all their deaths. 

But those are impossible things, for obedience 
holds her powerless in the depths of her C.armel. 
Still, if she cannot act, preach, or shed her blood, 
she can at least love. . . . And since it is love 
which animates all the Saints, to such an extent that 
if Love were to die away in the heart of the Churchy 
apostles would no longer preach the Gospel, inartyrs 
would refuse to shed their blood, she understands 
that love comprises all vocations, that love is every- 
thing, that it embraces all times and all places be- 
cause it is eternal. She understands that, through 
Love, she will realize all her desires, and that, if she 
can become Love — that is to say, be wholly trans- 
formed into Love — she will be and will do all she 
longed to be and to do. Then it is that Love 
appears to her as her special vocation, and she cries 
out : My vocation, at last I have found it! My 
vocation is Love! Yes, I have found my place in 
the bosom of the Church, and this place, O my God, 
Thou Thyself hast given it to me. In the heart of 
the Church m.y Mother, I will be Love. . . . Thus 
I shall be all; thus will my dream be realized.^ 

But the best means of being transformed into Love, 
is it not to draw to oneself, in order to be consumed 
by it, the Love which is in God or rather which is 
God Himself? For God is charity.^ 

As such He is a fire and a consuming fire."' Now 
when wood is exposed to fire, it burns. In the same 
way, if a soul were to expose herself to the flames of 
Love pent up in the Heart of God, would not she too 

^ " Hist, d'une Ame," chap. xi. 
* I John iv i6. ^ Deut. iv 24. 



be consumed ? And just as the wood becomes fire by 
contact with fire, would not she become Love by con- 
tact with Love ? We can have no doubt about it if 
only we consider the ardour of Divine Charity. Well ! 
to do that is nothing else than to offer oneself as a 
holocaust to the Merciful Love of the good God. In 
that way the soul will be enabled to render to her 
Father in Heaven love for love and to love Him as 
she is loved by Him, since she will have thus found 
the means of appropriating to herself the flames of 
Love of which the Blessed Trinity is the eternal 
source. To love the good God she will have at her 
disposal the very love, and, if we may say so, the 
very Heart of God. 

At the same time, she will satisfy one of the most 
earnest desires of this Adorable Heart, which is to 
diffuse Its Love. The need of loving and of being 
loved is infinite in God, and this need is, in truth, 
fully satisfied in the very bosom of the Blessed 
Trinity. But Love, like all good — and it is the 
greatest of goods — has an extreme tendency to com- 
municate itself; and it was in order to be able to 
diffuse His Love that God created the world, and in 
particular angels and man. Well, many of the 
angels have, as we know, refused the offer He made 
to them of His Divine tenderness, and now having 
put themselves wholly and for ever outside the pale of 
Love, they are henceforth only hatred and the object 
of hatred. As for men, the majority of them scorn- 
fully reject His loving advances. Thus act not only 
the disciples of the world, but even a very large 
number of Jesus Christ's own disciples. How rare are 



they indeed who surrender themselves unreservedly 
to the tenderness of His infinite Love ! Still the 
good God ceases not to urge them in the most 
touching manner. Continually repulsed, He returns 
continually to the charge. He multiplies His kind- 
nesses, His calls, His acts of forgiveness. But most 
often it is all in vain. What then will become of that 
infinite Love with which Jesus wishes to set the world 
ablaze, but of which the world wants nothing ? Shall i 
it for ever remain pent up, powerless, in the bosom • 
of the Adorable Trinity ? 

We know the words of our Lord to St Margaret 
Mary : *' I seek a heart in which to repose My suffer- 
ing Love which the world disdains." 

Our Beata, too, understood the complaint of the 
Divine Heart. She said to herself that if souls were 
to offer themselves as victims of holocaust to His 
Love, the good God, glad not to restrict the flames 
of infinite tenderness pent up within Hin, would not 
fail to consume them rapidly. And immediately she 
offers herself to receive into her heart all the Love 
that sinners disdain. Then it is that she cries out : 
Jesus ^ let tne be that happy victim! Consume Thy 
little holocaust in the fire of Divine Love. 

It was on the Qth of June, 1895, the Feast of the 
Holy Trinity, that Blessed Therese pronounced her 
Act of Oblation as victim of holocaust to the merci- 
ful Love of the good God. Assuredly this date 
deserves to be remembered. Because it consecrates a 
memorable day for the little souls called to walk in 
her footsteps on her little way of Love : the day which 
saw made on earth and ratified in Heaven the con- 



secration of the first of the little victims of merciful 
Love. To the victims offered and immolated to the 
Justice of God shall be added henceforth in the 
Church the victims consecrated and immolated to His 
infinite Love. And it shall be to the eternal glory 
of Blessed Therese de T Enfant Jesus to have, by a 
very special design of Divine Providence, opened up 
and traced the way for them, rendering it accessible 
to even the humblest and weakest souls, provided 
they be generous and confident, and consent to sur- 
render themselves unreservedly to the infinite Mercy 
of the good God. 

2. In what consists the Act of Oblation of 
Ourselves to Merciful Love? 

In order to form for ourselves a proper idea of it, 
it is best to go back to the formula which Blessed 
Therese drew up for herself, and which conveys to us 
exactly her thought. The full text of it will be 
found at the end of this work. We transcribe here 
the last lines only, as they are the essential part of it. 

O my God, Most Blessed Trinity, in order to live 
in one act of perfect Love, / o/fe/ myself as a victim 
of holocaust to Thy Merciful Love, imploring Thee 
to consume me unceasingly, and to let the flood of 
infinite tenderness pent up in Thee overflow into my 
soul, that so I may become a very martyr of Thy Love, 
O my God ! 

May this martyrdom, having first prepared me to 
appear before Thee, break life's thread at last, and 
may my soul take its flight, unretarded, into the 
eternal embrace of Thy Merciful Love. 



I desire, O Well-Beloved, at every heart-beat to 
renew this oblation an infinite number of times, till 
the shadows decline and I can tell Thee my love 
eternally face to face! 

Let us first remark that it is a question of an obla- 
tion of ourselves to the merciful Love of the good 
God, and that in making- it we offer ourselves to this 
infinite Love in order to draw it to us. 

If accepted then its first effect ought to be to cause 
the love of the Heart of the good God to overflow into 
the soul who has offered herself. Consequently, she 
remains before Him like a little vase in front of the 
ocean : the act of oblation has opened the floodgate 
and hollowed out the channel through which the 
waters will pass unretarded. Henceforth this happy 
soul shall be inundated with Love. 

Inundated with mercies, too, for in God, Love, when 
directed to creatures, cannot but be a merciful Love. 
To draw Love to ourselves is, then, to draw to our- 
selves the abundance of Divine mercies. 

Blessed Therese uses yet another expression which 
she was careful to underline. She speaks of tender- 
ness. She implores the good God " to let the flood 
of infinite tenderness pent up in Him overflow into 
her soul." This is because she does not forget that 
God is a Father, and that the love which descends 
from the heart of a father into the heart of his child 
presents itself under the most sweet form of tender- 
ness. It is this infinite tenderness, then, that she calls 
into her soul and to which she surrenders herself. 



Comparison with the Oblation to Divine Justice, 

Thence we see the difference there is between an 
oblation to the Justice of God and the oblation to His 
merciful Love. 

To offer ourselves to Justice is to call down upon 
ourselves the chastisements reserved for sinners, and 
thus to enable Divine Justice to satisfy itself whilst 
sparing the culprits. By virtue of that oblation, the 
victim-soul appears in the Church like a lightning- 
conductor raised upwards towards Heaven to attract 
the thunderbolt and preserve the neighbouring build- 
ings from it. And, as Blessed Therese remarks, that 
offering is noble and generous, since by it we ask to 
suffer that others may be spared. We cannot, in 
truth, serve as a lightning-conductor except by agree- 
ing to serve as a target for the anger of God exasper- 
ated against the crimes of the world. 

Victims of Love vow themselves not to the Justice 
of God, but to His infinite tenderness. They do not 
offer themselves directly to suffer, but to love and to 
be loved; nor as victims of expiation to repair, but 
as victims of holocaust to be wholly consumed. They 
are not the conductor which attracts the lightning, 
but the victim exposed to the fire of Heaven in order 
to receive its flames.^ 

We do not ^yish to set up a comparison between 
those two offerings from the point of view of excellence, 
but only to remark that if, by reason of possible con- 
sequences, one must look twice and be very prudent 
before offering oneself as a victim to Divine Justice, 

1 I Mach. i. 


this is not the case where there is question of the obla- 
tion to Merciful Love. Because this latter has in it 
nothing calculated to frighten any soul ; neither those 
that are little and feeble, since its end is to draw the 
flood of infinite tenderness, and since none more need 
tenderness than little ones; nor those who see them- 
selves still very imperfect and poor in virtue, since its 
effect is to make mercy superabound where misery 
had abounded; nor those who, being timid, would 
fear, perhaps, the consequences of this act of 

For true it is that in it there is question of a victim 
and of a victim of holocaust, which means an entire 
immolation, and there is mention in it also of 

But let it be noted well : it is not a question of a 
martyrdom of suffering, but of a martyrdom of Love ; 
that is to say, of a martyrdom which is the direct 
work of Love, in which, consequently, it is Love itself 
which immolates and consumes the victim. 

Blessed Therese makes that clearly understood by 
the expressions which she uses in her Act of Oblation 
when, after having implored the good God to con- 
sume her without ceasing by letting the flood of 
infinite tenderness pent up in Him overflow into her 
soul, she immediately adds : and that so I may 
become a very martyr of Thy Love, O my God ! 

The expression " that so " is precious to bear in 
mind. It proves that in the thought of Blessed 
Therese the martyrdom of Love comes to the soul 
directly from the very fullness of the flood of infinite 
tenderness which bursts in upon her, whose weight 



and intensity she could not support without endur- 
ing a veritable martyrdom. 

But who does not see also that such a martyrdom 
must bring with it much of austere sweetness in the 
midst of its inevitable rigours, and how good it must 
be to live on it, and how much better still it must be 
to die of it ! Such was exactly the idea that Blessed 
herese formed of it for herself when she wrote : 


To die of pure Love is a martyrdom sweety 
It is that which I fain would endure. 

The Act of Oblation to Merciful Love and its 
Consequences from tlie Point of View of 

Now here a question arises : Is this martyrdom of 
Love exempt, then, from suffering ? Or, if there be 
suffering in it, what exactly is its function ? 

Let us say at once that there is no martyrdom with- 
out pain, not even the martyrdom of Love. For if, 
according to the testimony of the " Imitation," we 
cannot live in Love without suffering, much less can 
we, without suffering, live on Love and die of Love. 

But here is the place to recall first the beautiful 
saying of St Augustine : To him who loveth, nothing 
is hard. Or, if something be hard, that becomes a 
suffering loved, and this suffering is sweet in the 
eyes of Love. 

Then again we must remark that suffering, here, 
is not the end or direct effect of the Act of Oblation. 
It may become a consequence of it. But it is not to 
suffering or with a view to suffering that we conse- 



crate ourselves; we consecrate ourselves to Love with 
a view to Love. 

Only it is true that Love bears in itself a germ of 
suffering, and that this germ usually develops with 
it. It is impossible to love God ardently without 

It is a suffering, in the first place, to see Him so 
little loved and so gravely offended. 

Again, not to love Him ourselves as much as we 
desire. We suffer from the narrowness and the 
powerlessness of a heart which can now no longer 
suffice to contain the flood of tenderness that comes 
to it from the Heart of God, and by which it is, as it 
were, submerged. 

The soul that loves Jesus suffers too, or rather 
aspires to suffer and of herself tends towards suffer- 
ing, because in her eyes suffering is no longer that 
repellent thing, so hard to nature, from which every- 
one shrinks : it is Jesus suffering who extends His 
arms to her. Love invites to resemblance, and Jesus 
is a Spouse of blood. 

Love urges on to generosity, and there are ex- 
changes of Love which can be made only on the Cross. 
Love, in fine, tends with all its force to union, and 
since the Cross has been the death-bed of Jesus, it 
has become the sacred abode whither He, the Divine 
King of Love, invites souls. His chaste spouses, to 
come and consummate their union with Him in suffer- 
ing and in death. 

There is yet another reason why every soul that 
loves Jesus ardently loves suffering, too, and joyfully 
accepts it. It is because she finds in each cross 



that presents itself to her a most efficacious means of 
"purchasing souls for Him" To love Jesus suffices 
not for her love; she wants at all cost to gain over to 
Him other hearts that will love Him eternally. She 
wants to save sinners for Him. But sinners are saved 
only by the application made to them of the infinite 
merits of the Saviour. Grace alone can convert them, 
and grace, the fruit of the bloody sacrifice of Calvary, 
often reaches their souls by a mysterious channel 
hollowed out and kept clear by the voluntary immio- 
lations of pure souls continuing in the mystical Body 
of Christ the sacrifice of the Cross. Those whom 
Jesus Christ has purchased by His death we can save 
by suffering. 

For all those reasons suffering is the inseparable 
companion of Love. Still, great as its necessity and 
its importance may be, with victims of Love it has 
no more than a secondary function. It goes only in 
the second place and ever under the guidance of Love. 

We must here answer an objection. 

Will not the good God, to whom we surrender 
ourselves by the oblation to merciful Love, at least 
avail Himself of it to send crosses and trials without 
measure ? 

Without measure ? Certainly not ! The trials 
willed by the good God are never willed without 
measure, but always proportioned to the supernatural 
energies which an ever-preventing grace has been 
careful to develop previously in the soul. There is 
always proportion between the trial and the Divine 

But will not God at least send exceptional suffer- 
8i G 


ings which He would never have demanded but for 
this oblation to Love ? That is His own affair and 
His own secret, and it depends on the designs He has 
on each particular soul. Let us say merely that it is 
not a necessary consequence of the Act of Oblation. 

True it is that Blessed Therese wrote that to sur- 
render oneself as a victim to Love is to offer oneself 
to every anguish^ to every bitterness^ for Love lives 
on sacrifice; and the more a soul wills to he sur- 
rendered to Love, the more must she be surrendered 
to suffering. 

But those words, spoken in a particular case for the 
consolation of a person sorely tried, were not what 
Blessed Therese habitually taught to the souls whom 
she wished to induce to make this Act of Oblation. 
She insisted on just the contrary with them, in order 
to convince them that they had naught to fear and 
all to gain, assuring them that the direct result of this 
donation is to draw down, not crosses, but abundant 

Without doubt God is Master, and the Cross being 
one of His most precious treasures. He usually gives 
it abundantly to His beloved ones. But that is so 
whatsoever be the spiritual way followed. And the 
great advantage here is that the cross, by becoming 
the fruit of Love, becomes, like it, gentle and sweet. 
In that sense we may say that what results from the 
Act of Oblation is not always more suffering, but 
more strength and facility to bear joyfully the measure 
of suffering intended for us by the good God. 

Here is what happens in practice. 

Once a soul has consecrated herself as a victim to 


merciful Love, she ought to believe, for it is true, 
that everything Providence sends her in answer to her 
oblation is the work of Love — that is to say, deter- 
mined, willed, chosen by Love. Consequently, the 
good pleasure of God should appear to her all im- 
pregnated and radiant with Love, and she must 
surrender herself to it as she did to Love itself— 
filially, lovingly, and also with confidence, her eyes 
closed, without seeking to penetrate the secrets that 
her Father in Heaven wishes to keep hidden from her. 
Let her only consider it as certain that He in His 
infinite wisdom and goodness will never require of 
her sacrifices above her strength. Love will know 
how to be forbearing in its demands and will ever 
proportion them to the treasures of energy that its 
own grace shall have developed in her. 

But still, if God has in regard to that soul more 
lofty designs of perfection, if especially He intends 
to associate her efficaciously with His work of 
Redemption for the conversion of sinners and the 
sanctification of other souls, there is reason to believe 
that He will lead her on by slow degrees to greater 
sufferings. But He will know how to do so with 
a sweetness at once strong and gentle. He will 
make her experience the austere and profound joy of 
suffering for Love's sake, and in that way He will 
inspire a longing for suffering. This longing can 
even become so ardent that only great and continual 
sufferings will be capable of satisfying it. We see 
this clearly in the case of Blessed Therese. In pro- 
portion as Jesus sent her crosses, her thirst for suffer- 
ing increased. But then, in the end she had gone so 



far, she said, as to suffer no longer, so sweet was suffer- 
ing to her. Then there was nothing like pain for 
giving her joy, and suffering united to love was the 
only thing that appeared to her desirable in this vale 
of tears. 

How then could she regret the consequences of her 
donation to Love, painful though they were ? That 
explains why, at the height of an agony without con- 
solation, when the chalice was full to the brim and the 
pains so great that the dying child acknowledged 
that never had she believed it possible to suffer so 
much, she said also, and repeated several times, that 
she did not repent of having surrendered herself to 

So shall it be for all souls whom God will lead 
through Love to the Cross. Not one of them shall 
ever repent of having surrendered herself to Love, 
whatsoever trials may result from it. 

The Principal Effects of the Act of Oblation, 

The designs of Providence, however, are not the 
same for all the little victims of merciful Love, and 
there are some amongst them who shall neither know 
those great trials nor those great desires of suffering. 
They shall be' none the less true victims of holocaust, 
most pleasing to God, for, according to the judgement 
of Blessed Therese, it is not these desires which 
delight the Heart of our Lord. What most pleases 
Him in a soul is to see her love her littleneiss ; it is the 
blind trust she has in His goodness. Love of suffer- 
ing is merely an accidental effect of the martyrdom 
of Love. 



Its essential and by far most desirable result is 
to make the soul live in the constant exercise of 
Charity, or, as Blessed Therese says : in one act of 
-perfect Love, 

Now when Love takes possession of a soul to this 
extent, it becomes master of all her powers and 
animates all her works. Consequently, every action 
she does, even the most indifferent, bears the divine 
imprint of Love, and its value becomes immense in 
the sight of God. 

That is not all. Divine Love cannot tolerate the 
presence nor even the trace of sin in the soul that is 
wholly surrendered to It. Doubtless the offering to 
merciful Love does not render one impeccable ; it does 
not prevent every fall. A little victim may still be 
guilty of infidelities. But Love which penetrates her 
and surrounds her renews her^ so to speaky each 
moment^ and ceases not to consume her^ destroying 
in her all that could displease Jesus. 

According to that, we can foresee what will be the 
death of a victim of merciful Love who shall have been 
to the last faithful to his oblation : an enviable death, 
if ever there was one ; and experience proves that such 
has always been the case. As for the Judgement that 
is to follow this happy death. Blessed Therese in her 
trustful simplicity believed that it would be as if there 
were none, so eagerly would the good God hasten to 
recompense with eternal delights His own Love, which 
He would see burn in this soul. 

Still, it would be rash to think that it suffices to 
have pronounced the formula of the Act of Oblation 
in order to escape all condemnation and so to avoid 



Purgatory. Blessed Therese has been careful to say 
that words alone are not sufficient. The soul must 
surrender herself really and entirely. For she is con- 
sumed by Love ordy in so jar as she surrenders herself 
to Love. 

The soul must have lived, too, in accordance with 
the holy exigencies of Love and in the exercise of 
charity, uniting love of her neighbour to love of God. 
Thus we can once more admire with what wise discre- 
tion Sister Therese knew how to remain ever within 
the exact bounds of truth and keep herseK free from 
all exaggeration, even at the very height of her 

All the foregoing remarks enable us to judge of the 
excellence of the effects of the oblation to the merci- 
ful Love of the good God. 

Let us say, in concluding this important subject, 
that it is not a favour reserved merely to a few privi- 
leged souls. A very great number are called to profit 
by it. Such at least were the thought and the desires 
of " little Therese," and the closing lines of the story 
of her life show us that such was also on earth what 
it still must be in Heaven, the object of her ardent 
prayer : / entreat Thee^ Jesus y to let Thy Divine 
gaze rest upon a vast number of little souls; I 
entreat Thee to choose in this world a Legion of little 
victims worthy of Thy Love! 

Why should not each one who shall read those 
lines, if he feel interiorly the call of grace inviting 
him, repeat after her and with her : Grants Jesus, 
that I may be that happy victim! 



Holy Abandonment 

In order to raise herself to the highest summit of 
Love, which is the consummation of the little way of 
childhood, the soul has now taken her place in the 
Divine lift. She has put herself into the arms of her 
Heavenly Father, and there, given up completely to 
His action, which is of infinite power, she expects 
from Him alone her entire transformation into 

This transformation is not within the power of any 
creature. There is no one, as we have said, but 
God alone who can bring it about; and this He can 
do in an instant, for in His sight a thousand years 
are but as one day. Moreover, for that, He has no 
need of any thing or of any person, except a good 
will, which insures correspondence to grace. 

In fact, there is but one thing which can place an 
obstacle to His power in a soul and nullify His 
action; and that thing is a bad will, wherever it 
exists. Now, the human will easily turns to evil, 
and by doing so becomes bad. And that is the 
reason why it is of such great import in the spiritual 
life to get rid of our own will, so as to have no other 
will but that of God Himself. 

Blessed Therese understood this very early in life, 
and from the moment that perfection appeared to her 
for the first time in its reality and with all its 
exigencies, she exclaimed : My Gody one thing only 



do I feafy and that is to retain my own will. Take 
Thou my will, for I choose all that Thou wiliest.^ 

To give thus to God our own will so as to have 
none other but His all-holy Will; to surrender our- 
selves wholly and blindly to this infinitely lovable 
Will, with as much joy as those who live a natural 
life experience in following- always their own caprice ; 
with the same transport of love and confidence that 
makes a child throw himself into the arms of His 
father, to throw ourselves into the arms of the good 
God, and from there to look always upon this holy 
Will of God as best and sweetest and most lovable — 
that is the practice of this holy abandonment, of 
which it remains for us to speak, so as to make 
known one of the most characteristic features of the 
holiness of Blessed Therese, and one of the most 
indispensable virtues of spiritual childhood. 

For if abandonment be necessary for every soul 
that aspires to sanctification whatever way be fol- 
lowed, its role is of essential importance here, in " the 
little way." It is extremely important that we should 
understand it, and that we should tend by constant 
practice to the perfection of this sublime virtue which 
is, together with love, the virtue -par excellence of 
little children. 

I. The Role of Holy Abandonment in the 
Little Way 

We may say of holy abandonment as well as of 

merciful Love that it is the product at once of all the 

virtues and of all the weaknesses of the child. It is, 

^ " Hist, d'une Ame," chap. i. 



in the "little way,'* like a cross-roads where all 
ways meet. 

Littleness leads to it, because the little one feels 
the need of allowing himself to be carried. 

Weakness runs to it, hoping to find there its surest 
support. Poverty hastens to come and seek in it its 
ever-assured sustenance. 

Confidence, too, tends to it with all its force, be- 
cause he who trusts instinctively surrenders himself, 
and great confidence leads to entire abandonment of 
self into the hands of the Friend or Father. 

Above all, abandonment is the end and the out- 
come of love. To love is to give. But the most 
perfect manner of giving ourselves, is it not by sur- 
rendering self? Abandonment includes the whole 
gift, together with something more absolute at the 
heart of it, and something more touching in form of 
it, which renders it at once more complete and more 

It is exactly in that way that Blessed Therese de 
r Enfant Jesus understood it. She conceived aban- 
donment as acting especially through Love ; which in 
her case worked in two ways, for holy abandonment 
appeared to her at once the best means of expressing 
her love for the good God, and the most efficacious 
means of raising herself rapidly to the perfection of 
Divine Love. So she abandoned herself because she 
loved ; and she abandoned herself in order to love 
still more. 



1. How Abandonment leads to the Perfection 
of Holy Love, 

Jesus, the Divine Master of pure hearts, had been 
pleased early to instruct His little victim ^ and He 
had shown her that the only road which leads to the 
Divine furnace of Love is the abandonment of the 
little child who sleeps without fear in the father's 

Bound for a far distant goal, the object of his 
ardent desires, what in fact can a child do, who is 
incapable not only of advancing, but even of dis- 
covering the route ? All alone in his little barque, 
lost amidst the waves, in the immensity of a sea 
interspersed with reefs and fruitful in shipwrecks, 
where very many of those who commenced the 
voyage before him have already foundered without 
having reached the luminous Beacon of Love^ the 
little one whom Jesus enlightens with His Divine 
light understands that so many sad shipwrecks are 
due solely to the imprudence of those who wanted to 
guide their barque for themselves, without knowing 
their way. And looking towards his Father in 
Heaven, who holds in His hand the winds and the 
sun, who commands the tempests and whom the 
waves obey, and seeing himself the constant object 
of His most loving attention, he says to himself in 
his simplicity that, in order to guide his barque, the 
one thing proper for a little child is to abandon him- 
self, to let his sail be filled at the mercy of the wind.^ 
In reality, nothing could be more wise. For what 

^ Lettre ^ sa soeur Celine. 


else is the mercy of the wind but the breath of God 
moving over the world ? The spirit breatheth where 
He will, and the spirit of God is Love. In allowing 
himself to be borne along by the wind, it is to Love 
itself, to a Love which is infinite in wisdom and in 
goodness as well as in power, that the child has 
entrusted himself. Happy child ! 

God alone, in truth, knows the way that each soul 
should follow here below. There is nothing more 
admirable than the variety of the ways by which He 
leads His elect. But one thing remains invariable, 
that is the particular love with which He directs, 
governs and protects the soul which, entrusting her- 
self to Him without reserve, leaves Him completely 
free to lead her on according to His wisdom. At 
every instant, both outwardly by the course of 
events and inwardly by the promptings of His 
grace, He procures for her what is most useful and 
best for her just at the moment. And so the soul 
which is most completely given up to abandonment 
is always the most tenderly fondled, the most power- 
fully succoured, the most constantly laden with the 
favours of Divine Goodness. 

For this reason, there is nothing so sanctifying as 
abandonment well imderstood. It is the shortest and 
safest, and at the same time the pleasantest road by 
which to arrive at the perfection of Love. And it is on 
this road that '' little Therese " has traced her IMe 
way, which, she said, is none other than ^/lat of con- 
fidence and complete abandonment. 



2. How Abandonment allows the Child to 
manifest his Love, 

The heart of our Beata bore her instinctively towards 
this complete abandonment. For she saw in it, not 
only the road that leads to the perfection of love, 
but also the most delicate manifestation of her child- 
like love. 

In her sight, before all and above all, God was the 
Father par excellence, more tender than all fathers 
and more maternal than a mother. She took delight 
in singing to Him : 

O Thou who didst create the mother's heart, 
Tenderest of fathers to me Thou art ; 
My sole Love, Jesus, O Word Eternal ! 
For me Thy Heart is more than maternal. 

She saw Him always occupied with His child : 

Thou dost follow and shield me the live-long day, 
When I call, Thou hastest, ne'er a delay. 

Even playing with His little one, as earthly fathers 
do with theirs : 

And when on a time Thou dost hide Thy Face, 
'Tis Thyself dost show me Thy hiding-place} 

What her abandonment of herself into the arms of 
this tender Father was, and how she made of it her 
Heaven on earth, is revealed to us in one of her 
poems which helps us to penetrate to the very depths 
of her beautiful childlike soul. Several of those 
verses deserve to be pondered over at length so as to 
extract from them their penetrating sweetness and 
their delightful lessons. But we should fear to rob 

* " Jesus seul." 


them of their freshness by trying to explain them. 
In order to grasp their meaning it is better that each 
one should dwell upon them in quiet beneath the gaze 
of the good God Himself, by the light of His grace, 
in the divine intimacy of prayer : 

My Heaven is — to feel in me the likeness 

Of the God of power who created me ; 

My Heaven is — to stay for ever in His presence, 

To call Him Father — just His child to be ; 

Safe in His Arms divine, near to His sacred Face, 

Resting upon His Heart, of the storm I have no fear ; 

Abandonment complete, this is my only law — 

Behold my Heaven here !^ 

Now, the child who abandons himself in the arms 
of a tenderly loved father or mother does not usually 
calculate the import of his action. He abandons 
himself, as he loves, instinctively. This is exactly 
what " little Therese " did. Or, if she reasoned about 
her act of abandonment, if she sought advantages in 
it, they were not so much her own as those of Jesus. 

What she saw in it above all was a means of proving 
her love to Him in a very perfect manner, by render- 
ing herself completely dependent on Him and on His 
holy will, in order the better to give Him pleasure. 

The will of the good God ! Blessed Therese did 
so love it ! Like Jesus Himself, she made it the whole 
nourishment of her soul. She lived on it and con- 
centrated on this holy will all her desires and all the 
ardour of her prayer, not knowing how to desire any- 
thing ardently except the perfect fulfilment of the will 
of God in her soul.^ 

1 " Mon Ciel ^ moi." 

2 " Hist, d^une Ame," chap. viii. 



It was in order to accomplish it perfectly that she 
made herself obedient to the least prescriptions of the 
Rule and of the Superiors. And even more, she gazed 
unceasingly into the eyes of the good God — the ex- 
pression is her own — in order to read in them what 
'pleased Him most and to accomplish it itnmediately.^ 

Now, there is something more perfect than to 
accomplish ourselves the good pleasure of God by 
doing what pleases Him : it is to leave Him free to 
please Himself in us, by directing everything in our 
life according to His own free will, without taking 
anything else into consideration except the interests 
of His glory and the greater joy of His Heart. It is 
to measure our own happiness, not according to the 
good fortune or profit that events bring to us, but 
according to the opportunities they offer us of pro- 
curing the Divine good pleasure. To know that the 
good God was satisfied was sufficient happiness for 
"little Therese," and filled her with joy. 

And so the purest disinterestedness appears to us 
to be the distinctive mark of her abandonment. This 
it is that is most prominent in her words, as also in 
the comparisons she employs to explain her thought. 
In truth she desires but one thing : that is, to be in 
the hands of the Child Jesus as a little toy, but a toy 
of no value, that He can throw on the ground, toss 
about, pierce, leave in a corner, or else press to His 
Heart, if it so please Him. For she desires no other 
joy but that of making Him smile. Or again, what 
she wishes to be is a rose that sheds its petals beneath 
the Feet of Jesus, one that is treated without care, 
1 Souvenirs inddits. 



forgotten, thrown at the mercy of the wind. He may 
trample it underfoot, He may crush it; that does not 
matter, provided only it soothe at least His last steps 
on Calvary ! 

It goes without saying that preferences of a per- 
sonal nature would be incompatible with such a degree 
of abandonment. And so Blessed Therese, in what 
concerned herself, made it a rule not to be occupied 
with any particular desires. Indifferent to life or 
death, although her heart told her that death was the 
more enviable portion, she abstained from choosing. 
She left that care to her Father in Heaven. What He 
chooses for me^ she said, is what -pleases me most. I 
love all that He does. 

It happens sometimes — too often — that we go very 
far in search of perfection, whereas we have it con- 
tinually within our reach. After all, holiness is 
nothing else practically than the union of conformity 
between man's will and God's will. The more perfect 
this conformity is — that is to say, the more real it is, 
and based on love — the more it unites the creature to 
the Creator, so that to become a saint it would suffice 
to practise perfectly holy abandonment; for in its 
perfect degree this abandonment supposes the soul to 
be altogether absorbed and completely transformed 
into the will of God. 

From this we can judge of the value of the little 
way and of its efficaciousness in the sanctification of 
souls, since it is nothing else but a life that is all love 
united with complete abandonment. 



II. — The Prudence of Blessed Therfese in the Exercise 
of Holy Abandonment 

Blessed Therese knew how to exercise always dis- 
cretion and prudence in her " little way." For more 
dangers than one are encountered therein, and it 
is necessary to be watchful against excesses which 
are always possible. 

It is thus that she showed herself circumspect in 
face of certain high aspirations, familiar to generous 
souls, which at first sight seem to come from the Spirit 
of God, but which are often nothing more than idle 
fancies inspired by self-love. We know of her great 
desires of immolation and her thirst for suffering. 
Nevertheless, feeling herself ever little and weak, even 
in the arms of the good God, she took care never to 
desire or to ask for greater sufferings than those which 
her Father in Heaven destined for her : / would be 
afraid of being presumptuous^ she avowed, and that 
those sufferings^ having become then my own suffer- 
ings, I would be obliged to bear them alone; never 
have I been able to do anything alone. And her 
abandonment never deviated from that characteristic 
of perfect simplicity which so well becomes the little 

With the same prudence she closed her eyes to the 
future, and she encouraged little souls to do likewise. 
We zvho run in the way of Love must never torment 
ourselves about anything.^ And through prudence 
as well as through Love, her abandonment made 

* " Hist, d'une Ame," chap. xii. 



itself voluntarily blind, so as to leave more com- 
pletely to her Heavenly Father the care of watching 
and of providing for her every need. 

Yet there was not in that any of the timidity or 
apathy of a soul that gives herself up to carelessness 
through weakness and lack of energy. On the con- 
trary, her confidence enabled her to find in abandon- 
ment an admirable courage. A prey to sickness, she 
wrote : / have no fear of the last combats^ nor of the 
sufferings of my malady, how great soever they may 
he. The good God has aided me and led me by the 
hand from my tenderest infancy; I rely on Him. I 
am sure that He will continue to help me to the last. 
I may have to suffer extremely^ but I shall never have 
too much, I am sure. ^ 

And her heroic patience, which never failed her 
even to her last breath, proved that she spoke truth. 

On the other hand, her abandonment had nothing 
of rashness in it. The same prudence which guarded 
her against discouragement preserved her likewise 
from presumption. This prudent virgin who ex- 
pected everything from the good God knew that we 
must not tempt His Providence, and that, while rely- 
ing on His grace, we must also turn it to use and 
second it. Being charged, notwithstanding her 
youth, with the instruction of the novices, she re- 
doubled her abandonment. She placed herself like 
a little child in the arms of her Father, and there, 
with her eyes fixed on Him, she waited till He Him- 
self should fill her hand that she might give, as she 
said, food to her children. And without even turning 

* " Hist, d'une Ame," chap. xii. 

97 H 


her head aside, she distributed to them what came 
to her from God alone. But this union in no way 
lessened her vigilance, or her clearness of judgement, 
nor did it make her retrench in any way the duties 
which Christian prudence imposes. She watched, 
observed, and studied souls, knowing well that they 
must not all be taken in the same way. And so from 
her elevated post nothing escaped her gaze. She 
watched very exactly over all the duties of her office. 
We have cited this example in order to show that 
abandonment, rightly understood, far from stifling 
the other virtues, rather develops them. And just as 
it does not annihilate prudence, so it does not lessen 
generosity. Listen to this song of a soul entirely sur- 
rendered to holy abandonment : 

Thee alone, Jesus — Thee, and none beside, 
'Tis to Thine Arms that I run to hide; 
As a little child would I fain love Thee, 
As a warrior, strive for victory. 
Of a child the delicate, tender love 
My caresses, Lord, to Thee shall prove ; 
And in the field of my apostolate 
My zeal in the fight shall ne'er abate.^ 

Blessed Therese de TEnfant J6sus is there whole 
and entire, humble and trustful, weak and ardent, 
entirely surrendered to Abandonment and to 
Love. . . . And in this union of love and valour, of 
calm abandonment and of courageous action, consists 
the whole ideal of the little souls destined to become 
the victims of merciful Love. Who would not aspire 
to its realization, so beautiful is it ? 

* "Jesus seul." 




When a fire breaks out in the interior of a house, it 
consumes rapidly everything within its reach, and, 
as its heat increases with all it consumes, the space 
where it is enclosed becomes too confined to contain 
it. Then through the windows, the glass of which 
crashes, through the roof which falls in, through the 
breaches made in the collapsing walls, the flames are 
seen bursting forth and darting towards the neigh- 
bouring houses in order to devour them in their turn. 
And so it happens at times that a mere spark produces 
an immense conflagration. 

In the same way, when Divine Love is enkindled in a 
heart, it is at first only a spark of fire under the embers. 
Little by little it grows hotter, it flames, it becomes a 
glowing hearth, so much so that after some time, it 
also being too much confined, seeks to extend itself; 
it bursts forth. At first there are only feeble sparks, 
and then veritable flames. These sparks and these 
flames of Love constitute zeal, because zeal is to love 
what flame is to fire : the proof of its ardour. 

We can affirm then that Blessed Therese must have 
been devoured by zeal since she was consumed by 
love. Such in truth was the case. An eminently 
apostolic soul and a true daughter of St. Teresa, she 
showed herself to have an extreme ardour for the 
salvation and sanctification of souls, giving in this as 
in all else an admirable example to the little victims 



of Merciful Love, whom it is her mission to draw 
after her. Let these then not believe that they have 
arrived at the end of the ' ' little way ' ' so long 
as zeal is not enkindled, like a flame, in their 

For it is impossible to love the good God sin- 
cerely, much less to love Him ardently^ without desir- 
ing that He be known, loved and glorified by all 
men; without suffering at seeing His Name outraged, 
His Love despised, and the sufferings of Jesus Christ 
rendered fruitless for so many sinners. 

In the same way we cannot truly love our neigh- 
bour without feeling a lively sorrow at the sight of 
the unfortunate ones who daily fall into Hell, because 
their misery makes us shudder when we realize it. 
And those on earth who habitually live in danger 
of imminent damnation are legion. 

But whether it is a question of God or of our 
neighbour, sentiments though generous do not 
suffice : love is proved by works, and the special 
work of love here is zeal. 

We insist on this point. The li^lle way is a way 
wholly of love, which tends only to love, and 
derives all its value from love. It is then of the 
utmost importance that the souls that enter upon it 
should remove from themselves everything that 
might be an obstacle to Divine Charity. Now this 
latter has no greater enemy than egotism, which, shut 
up within itself, thinks but of self, of its own pleasure 
and of its own interests. There is a false piety, the 
piety consisting merely in appearances, of those 
whom the Apostle speaks of, who seek their own 



advantage and not the interests of Jesus Christ/ a 
piety based on egotism. 

When this egotism takes root in a soul, it wounds 
love and corrupts it even as the worm taints the 
fruit into which it has entered. Disastrous for every 
soul, egotism would be mortal for the virtue of a 
little victim of Merciful Love. She must preserve 
herself carefully from it, or, if she is seized with it, 
let her get rid of it at all cost. There is no more 
efficacious means for so doing than the exercise of 
zeal which makes us go out of ourselves and forget 
ourselves for the service of souls. 

Thus zeal shows itself to be at once the safeguard 
and the fruit of holy love. 

It is truly providential that the first of the 
little victims of Love, she who was to trace out the 
way for the others and serve as their model, was such 
a zealous soul. Let us see then from what source she 
drew her zeal and in what way she exercised it. 
From this double point of view, her way is wholly 
characteristic, and little souls will derive immense 
profit by imitating her. 

I.— The Source of Zeal 

We may say that the zeal of Blessed Th^rese was 
born with her and grew with her growth. 

Divine love had, she said, gone before her from her 
infancy, and that is why, while yet a child, she 
loved souls, desired their salvation, and, in order 
to procure it, had recourse to the most ingenious 

1 Cf. Phil, ii 21. 


practices which her naive piety suggested to her. 
From the age of three years, her little daily acts of 
renunciation and her sacrifices could be counted by 

But it was when approaching her thirteenth year 
that she received the great grace of her apostolate. 
She has related it at length in the story of her life. 

It was Sunday, at the end of Mass. As she was 
closing her book, a picture, representing our Lord on 
the Cross, slips partly out of the pages, just far 
enough to let her see one of the Divine Hands, 
pierced and bleeding. 

It is only a minute detail. A hundred times 
before, perhaps, she has looked upon that same 
Hand without being impressed by it. But on that 
day a strong penetrating grace descends upon her 
and moves her soul to its very depths. 

My hearty she writes, was turn with grief at the 
sight of the Precious Blood falling to the ground 
with no one eager to gather it as it fell; and I resolved 
to remain in spirit continually at the foot of the 
Cross that I rnight receive the Divine Dew of salva- 
tion and four it forth on souls. From that day the 
cry of the dying Saviour ^ " I thirst/'* re-echoed con- 
tinually in my heart, firing it with an ardent zeal 
till then unknown to me. I longed to give to my 
Beloved to drink; 1 too felt myself consumed with 
the thirst for souls, and at all cost I would wrest 
sinners from the eternal flames.'^ 

As we see, it is from the love of Jesus Crucified that 
the zeal of our Beata springs. What inclines her to 
* " Hist, d'une Ame," chap. v. 
1 02 


sinners is less the thought of their misery than the 
sight of His sorrow. 

Doubtless her compassionate heart, animated by 
an ardent charity, could not remain insensible to the 
misery of those souls that are damned. But what 
she sees above all in sinners is that they are wretched 
ingrates who offend the good God, who do not love 
Him, and who, if they should be damned, will hate 
Him for all eternity, and so render fruitless the Blood 
and the sufferings of the Saviour of the world. What 
afflicts her most is the thought that from their hearts 
there no longer rises and perhaps never will rise an act 
of love for the God who has so loved them. Then her 
whole raison (T etre and her whole life appear to her 
in a new light, which she conveys in those expressive 
words : There is only one thing to do here below : to 
love Jesus and to save souls for Him that He may 
be loved. 

Let us consider well these words : To love Jesus 
and to save souls FOR HIM that He may be loved. 
Here is a zeal which not only comes from love, but 
tends to and returns wholly to Love : Let us save 
souls FOR HIM that so He may be loved! 

We made a similar remark already in regard to 
the other virtues of Blessed Therese. But here it is 
particularly striking. 

We know now the source of her zeal. From this 
it is easy to deduce its most salient characteristics. 

Born of the love of Jesus, her zeal is pure as her 
love. No smoke is mingled with the bright glow of 
its flame. 

From such a burning hearth, immense waves 


of heat must indeed come forth. For the love of 
Jesus is noble, says the author of the '' Imitation," 
it spurs us on to do great things : it is earnest and 
does not want to lose any opportunity of manifesting 
itself by works. 

But let us hear '' little Theresa " : We have but the 
single day of this life to save souls and thus to give 
Jesus proofs of our love. . . . Let us be jealous of 
the smallest opportunities of giving Him joy : let us 
refuse Him nothing. He does so want our love! 
In order to turn the one day of this present life to 
the best advantage, to save a greater number of souls 
and to gain over to Jesus a greater number of hearts, 
she would wish to multiply her labours and her suffer- 
ings, to hold simultaneously the most sacred offices, 
to have every possible vocation. She would wish to 
be a priest so as to give God to souls, a doctor so as 
to enlighten them, a missionary so as to travel all 
over the world and announce the Gospel everywhere, 
and all that not for a few years only but till the end 
of time. 

For this is another characteristic of her zeal : the 
immensity, or say rather the universality, of her 
desires. One might say that, like St. Paul, she 
bears with her the solicitude of all the churches. 
She bears still more : for she holds enclosed within 
her heart all the desires of the Heart of Jesus, not 
only those which concern the present time, but also 
those which regard the far distant future. She 
counts on doing good till the Last Day. 

A chimerical dream ! So it would appear. An 
unrealizable ambition. For, judging according to 



the usual course of things, how many souls will she 
be able to reach from the seclusion of her Carmel, 
during the very short time of her existence ? But 
her zeal replies that all is possible to love, and that a 
great confidence triumphs over all things. That is 
why she hopes, and is certain that her immense 
desires will be accomplished. 

We know that prophecy of hers which events have 
so magnificently realized even to this day. It was 
a few days before her happy death, when she said : 
/ feel that my mission is about to begin, my mission 
to make others love the good God as I love Him . . . 
to give to souls my little way. I WILL SPEND MY 
impossible, since from the very heart of the Beatific 
Vision the angels keep watch over us. No, there 
can be no rest for me till the end of the world! But 
when the Angel shall have said: " Time is no more!'' 
then shall I rest — shall be able to rejoice, because the 
number of the elect will be complete. 

This incredible zeal which enlarges her horizon 
and extends her hopes even to infinity is the natural 
outcome of the way of spiritual childhood. For 
none but a "little one*' would have the daring to 
carry his confidence to such extremes. It is only the 
child of a God who can give himself up to desires 
* * greater than the universe ' * and hope that these 
desires will be not only fulfilled but far surpassed. 
To conceive such immense desires is the function of 
confidence, but it is for love alone to realize them. 
Blessed Ther^se will teach it to us. 



II. — The Exercise of Zeal 

There are, besides the preaching of the word of 
God reserved to priests, two principal means of 
apostolate which are at the disposal of every soul of 
good will : prayer and sacrifice. Blessed Ther^se 
did not fail to employ both the one and the other. 

She knew the great efficacy of prayer. She saw in 
prayer the mysterious and irresistible lever which has 
served the saints of every age to uplift the world. 
In her confident simplicity she even believed that 
often the Creator of the Universe awaits only the 
prayer of one poor little soul to save a multitude of 
others^ redeemed like her at the price of His Blood. 
And so her prayer, though usually dry, was con- 
tinual. We know one of her modes of prayer on 
behalf of sinners. It consisted, as we have seen, in 
remaining at the foot of the Cross, receiving the 
Blood as it flows from the wounds of the Crucified, 
to offer it to God in expiation, and to pour it on 
souls as a purifying dew. 

She had recourse to sacrifice as much as to prayer. 
Sacrifice is indeed the very basis of the Redemption, 
for without the shedding of blood there is no remis- 
sion of sin.^ The saints of every age understood 
this, and there has been no apostolic man, or con- 
verter of souls, who was not a man of sacrifice and 

Nor was Blessed Therese ignorant of this. She 
knew that since the King of Heaven raised up the 
standard of the Cross ^ it is under its shadow that all 

* Heb. ix 22. 


must fight and win the victory. For together with 
the love of souls Jesus had put into her heart the love 
of sacrifice. This good Master, having made her 
understand that it was through the Cross He would 
give her souls, the more crosses she encountered, the 
stronger became her attraction to suffering. We 
know how far she went in her passionate love of sacri- 
fice, and that she was an immolated soul. 

Yet that is not the distinctive characteristic of her 
apostolate. Blessed Therese was an apostle above 
all by love. Other saints have been, like her, souls of 
prayer, and some have gone further than she in the 
practice of penance. She wished to triumph above 
all by love. Love was her chosen weapon. She 
could not have said it more clearly : " With the sword 
of love I will drive the stranger from the kingdom. 
I will have Jesus proclaimed King in all hearts." A 
strange sword, truly ! Weapon of peace, if ever 
there was one, but an irresistible weapon which draws 
all its force from its sweetness, which conquers Jesus 
by caresses, and, making Him smile, disarms Him. 

When I wrestle with Thee, the sinner to save, 
My weapon of choice — strewing flowers at Thy Feet, 

I disarm Thee, Lord, like warrior brave. 
With flowerets sweet ! 

One word especially is significant. Love triumphs 
over Jesus by disarming Him — that is to say, by 
making the arms with which His justice would strike 
sinners fall from His hands. 

There is another means of saving them, which con- 
sists in offering oneself to receive the blows which 
they have but too well merited ; and it is thus, as we 



have seen, that those generous souls act who offer 
themselves as victims to Divine Justice. But little 
victims have the resource which is theirs from their 
title of child. They win Jesus by love, our Beat a 
said; by caresses. They begin by making Him 
smile, and they fascinate Him by strewing flowers 
before Him, and once they have made themselves 
sovereigns of His Heart they have no difficulty in 
wresting His arms from Him. Love gives to them in 
His eyes the empire of a queen over the heart of her 
king. And so it comes to pass that sweetness accom- 
plishes what strength could not have done, and love 
triumphs where expiation alone would have been 

This is how the " little queen " obtains now from the 
King of kings pardon for the greatest culprits. How 
else can we explain the innumerable graces of con- 
version and of salvation attributed to the power of 
her intercession ? Neither her penances, considered 
in themselves, nor even her prayers, seem capable of 
giving a satisfactory explanation. It is love alone that 
suffices to explain everything. " Little Therese " has 
possessed herself of the Heart of the good God by 
force of love, and now God can refuse her nothing : 
/ have never given anything but love to Him, she was 
able to say ; with love He will repay me. And again : 
/ have won Him by caresses y and that is why I shall 
be so well received. 

This would be the place in which to recall how the 
humble child conquered the Heart of her Heavenly 
Father at the price of a love which was tender, re- 
fined, earnest, generous, ardent, and filial — above all, 



filial. For everything in her life, as also in her 
spirituality, is held together and connected in won- 
derful harmony. And one cannot understand what 
is said here of her zeal in particular, without having 
first realized the depth and the tenderness of her love 
of God, or rather her life, which was all love, which 
draws love from everything and transforms every- 
thing into love — pains and sacrifices and even joys. 
Nor must we lose sight of these words which throw 
such a shining light on her life here below and on her 
mission in Heaven : In the heart of the Church, my 
Mother, I will be love. . . . My brothers toil in my 
place, and /, the little child, I keep quite close to the 
royal throne; I love for those who fight. 

The same place and the same weapons are offered 
to all little victims of the Merciful Love of God, and 
great triumphs await them also if, by uniting prayer 
to sacrifice, they cease not to immolate themselves, 
and above all to love; if, like Blessed Therese, and 
side by side with her, they also become Love in the 
heart of the Church their Mother and spend their 
lives doing the works of Love. 




Simplicity gives to childhood one of its most 
fascinating characteristics. Simplicity it is that 
impresses on the slightest movements of the little 
one, on its every word, on all its ways, that stamp of 
uprightness and candour which renders it so lovable 
in our eyes. To take away its simplicity from the 
child would be to take from the flower its perfume. 

So entrancing a virtue could not be wanting to the 
little child of the good God. And for this reason 
the soul that wishes to advance on the way of spiritual 
childhood ought to value simplicity very highly. She 
must banish from her mind, from her heart, and from 
her conduct, all that savours of duplicity, and even 
all that appears in the slightest degree complex, and 
practise to the very letter on every occasion the coun- 
sel of Jesus to His Apostles : " Be ye simple as doves." 

Blessed Therese was a perfect model of this beau- 
tiful and lovable simplicity, and were we to say 
nothing of it, the sketch of her soul we give here, as 
well as the idea we ought to form for ourselves about 
her little way, would be altogether incomplete. 

Besides, this virtue is not one of those of which the 
acts are made only from time to time as opportunities 
occur; its practice is a thing of every day and, in 
some manner, of every moment. Or, to speak more 
correctly, it consists less in distinct acts than in a 
certain manner of being which is impressed on one's 
whole life, not only in external conduct, but even in 



the thoughts and the most interior sentiments of 
the soul. And that is what gives it such great 

In the spirituality of Blessed Th^rese, or like her, 
to speak more simply, as in her '* little doctrine,** 
everything is ordinary, everything happens in the 
very simplest way : the soul is borne towards God as 
the river is borne towards the sea ; the river following 
the incline flows downwards, the soul following its 
inclination tends upwards. And as the river flows 
on, shut in between its banks, without seeking a way 
for itself outside, so in spiritual childhood life passes 
away in God by following the course of events, and 
borne along by the very surroundings of life, because 
in everything that presents itself to be done or to be 
suffered, a little soul always finds a means of raising 
itself to God by love and by the practice of every 

Such was the life of "little Th^rese." Outwardly, 
no remarkable events; within, nothing extraordinary 
either: no visions, no raptures, no ecstasies; but the 
common way from every point of view, from the 
beginning to the end ; the ordinary life in the obscurity 
of Faith. 

This it is which makes of her, for a very large 
number of souls, a model so encouraging and so easy 
of imitation. For as she sang herself : The number 
of little ones on earth is very greats and in my little 
way^ she says again, there are only quite ordinary 
things; all that I do^ little souls must be able to do 

* " Hist, d'line Ame," chap. xii. 


Let us follow her, then, once more in the luminous 
traces that she has left on her way. Nothing will be 
more capable of arousing- our confidence and our 
fervour than to consider, at the close of this study, 
how simple was the way which raised her in so short 
a time to a high degree of perfection. 

I. — How Simplicity Goes Straight to God 

It is the property of simplicity to go straight to its 

In the spiritual life the end is God. To go straight 
to God is to have Him as the direct end of all our 
actions, and not to harass ourselves with any other 
care. For that, we must forget creatures and not 
seek to please them; we must forget self, and in no 
way seek our own pleasure or personal advantage. 
For howsoever little a person is occupied with self 
or with creatures, he turns aside, he deviates from the 
straight line, he ceases to tend directly to God; he 
leaves simplicity behind. 

Our Beata, as we have seen, had but one constant 
preoccupation : to please the good God. That is how 
she brought unity into her life, and it was an excellent 
way of being simple, for here unity and simplicity are 
all one. 

But God is love. Hence, to go to Him she con- 
sidered that there is no better means than love. And 
to the simplicity of the end she joined the sim- 
plicity of the means. For in her eyes all were reduced 
to love. Still, that did not prevent her from having 
recourse to the practice of the other virtues. But she 

113 I 


SO enveloped and permeated them with love that she 
transformed them all into love, and she could say : 
/ know of one means only by which to arrive at per- 
fection : Love. Let us love^ since our heart is made 
for nothing else. 

Thus, simplicity in the end : God alone ; simplicity 
in the means : love ; and this love again freed from 
everything that might complicate it and reduced to 
its simplest form : the love of a child for his father. 
Such is, as we remember, the foundation of the 
spirituality of Blessed Therese. 

Now simplicity of love brings with it simplicity of 
faith. For the child who loves never doubts the word 
of his father. If the virtue of Faith, considered in its 
human element, is founded on the intellect and the 
will, the heart can also have a part in it, and, when it 
intervenes, it simplifies and strengthens to a remark- 
able degree the acquiescence of these two powers. 
*'As for us," says St John, "we believe in love." 
But this word which solves every difficulty in the 
presence of the obscurities of Faith, what else is it 
but a cry of loving confidence to the father or to the 
friend that speaks to us? Such was the faith of 
Blessed Therese, not only in the bright days when her 
soul gently expanded beneath the warm rays of the 
Divine Sun, but also in the most gloomy days of her 
great temptations against Faith. She never ceased 
to believe, because she never ceased to love Him in 
whom faith told her to believe. 

The same love which rendered her faith so simple, 
made her confidence also very simple. She trusted 
as she believed, because she loved, and in the full 



measure of her love. And from thence, too, came the 
wonderful simplicity of her abandonment. 

Thence, in fine, the relations so affectionate and 
simple which in all ways she maintained with her 
Father in Heaven, notably in her prayer. Her 
manner of prayer had nothing in it complicated or 
strained. / have not the courage ^ she said herself, 
to force myself to seek beautiful prayers in hooks; not 
knowing which to choose^ I act as children do who 
cannot read: I say quite simply to the good God 
what I want to tell Him^ and he always under- 
stands me.^ 

Nothing could be more touching, because nothing 
more beautiful in its simplicity, than the following 
scene which belongs to nearly the last hours of her 
life. It was the night but one before her death. Her 
infirmarian, on entering the infirmary, found her 
with her hands joined and her eyes raised towards 

" But what are you doing ?" she asked ; " you should 
try to sleep." 

*' I cannot, dear Sister; I suffer too much ! Then 
I pray . . ." 

" And what do you say to Jesus ?" 

"/ say nothing: I LOVE HlM."^ 

Simple with God, she is simple even in the very dis- 
tractions that assail her. Others would be troubled 
about them; she is content to accept all that for the 
love of the good God^ even the most extravagant 
thoughts that come into her mind, 

* " Hist, d'une Ame," chap. x. 
2 Ihid.y chap, xii, 



Further still, she is simple in her manner of recom- 
mending to God those dear to her. If she had to 
enumerate the needs of each one in particular, she 
said, the days would be too short for doing so, and 
she would greatly fear forgetting something im- 
portant. Besides, complicated methods are not for 
simple souls, and as she is one of these, Jesus Himself 
inspired her with a very simple means. It consists 
in saying to Him with the Spouse in the Canticles : 
" Draw me : we will run after Thee to the odour of 
Thy ointments,** for a soul could not run alone with- 
out drawing after her the souls whom she loves. This 
is a natural consequence of her attraction towards 

In this way nothing can distract a soul whose one 
occupation is to love ; nothing can turn it away from 
its end. On the contrary, everything that might 
seem capable of turning it aside, such as the most 
importunate distractions and preoccupations of every 
kind, becomes new material for her love. Just as we 
see rivers, swollen by the waters which their tributaries 
bring, drawing along with themselves these waters 
without being delayed by them; and all that comes 
to them from left and right, from far and near, instead 
of slackening their course only accelerates it. And 
when at last all these waters reach the sea, they have 
no longer any name but one, that of the river which 
bears them along. 

In the same way the beauty of a life is evolved from 
its simplicity. When it is vowed wholly to love, this 
latter draws everything along in its train, and nothing 
resists it. Thoughts, works, pains, joys, preoccupa- 



tions, everything is subject to the attraction of love. 
And just as the streams lose their names when mingled 
with the river, so at the contact of love everything 
in life becomes love and is transformed into love. It 
is the triumph of charity and the blessed fruit of 

II. — Where and How Simplicity is to be Learned 

Blessed Therese has just told us : complicated 
methods are not for simple souls. So, in order to 
learn the great science of perfection, the most simple 
doctrine is that which suits them best, which they 
appreciate the more and from which they derive the 
most profit. That is the reason why Blessed Therese 
so loved the Gospels. 

When 1 read, she says, certain treatises where ^er- 
fection is set forth as encompassed by a thousand 
obstacles, my poor little head grows weary very 
quickly. I close the learned book which puzzles my 
brains and dries up my heart, and in its stead I 
open the Holy Scriptures. Then all appears clear, 
luminous. One single word discloses to my soul 
infinite horizons; perfection seems easy; I see that it 
is sufficient to recognize our nothingness and to leave 
oneself like a child in the arms of the good God. Let 
great souls and sublime intellects enjoy the beautiful 
books^ which I cannot understand, still less put in 
practice. I rejoice in being little, since children only 
will be admitted to the Heavenly banquet. It is well 
that the Kingdom of Heaven contains many man- 
sions, for if there were none other than those of which 



the description and the way seem incomprehensible to 
mey I should never be able to enter therein.^ 

We would be certainly wrong in concluding from 
those lines that Blessed Therese professed the least 
contempt for treatises on spirituality in which the 
Saints or other authors have accumulated the treasures 
of their experience or the fruit of their knowledge. 
We know from the story of her life that, while still 
quite young, she knew by heart nearly all the " Imita- 
tion of Christ," that during the first years of her 
religious life she learned in the school of St. John of 
the Cross, that she meditated with profit on the 
** Foundations of the Spiritual Life," by P. Surin, etc. 

But in proportion as she advanced in years, her soul 
was becoming more and more simplified. Very soon 
after her entrance into Carmel, an aged nun of her 
convent had told her that it would be so. "Your 
soul is extremely simple," she said to her, " but when 
perfect you will become still more simple; the nearer 
we approach to God the simpler we become." Now 
according as she became more simple, instead of going 
to draw water from the channels which bring to the 
earth the living waters of truth, she felt herself instinc- 
tively urged to go direct to the fountain-head. The 
fountain-head is the inspired word, the word of God 
Himself; it is the Holy Scripture, and especially the 
Gospels, a book twice divine, being inspired by God 
and setting forth the life of the Man-God. 

Of all the Sacred Books, that of the Gospels was 

the one she consulted most willingly and with the 

greatest love. It was for her more and better than a 

^ VI* lettre a des missionaires. 



VADE-MECUM ; night and day she bore it on her heart ; 
she nourished her soul with it ; we might say she lived 
on it. 

She loved to contemplate in it the examples of the 
Divine Spouse to whom she has vowed all her affec- 
tion; and by merely looking at Him, and listening 
to Him, she learned the science of sanctity. Oh, how 
luminous are His footprints — diffusing a divine sweet- 
ness. . . . I have hut to glance at the holy Gospels 
and immediately I inhale the fragrance of the life of 
fesus, and I know which side to take^ 

The picture of the Holy Family at Nazareth in 
particular appealed very sweetly to her soul. Every- 
thing there was so simple. 

In the life of the Blessed Virgin and St. Joseph 
there was nothing remarkable, nothing extraordinary. 
What an encouragement it was, therefore, for a little 
soul called to journey along the ordinary path to 
contemplate the august Mother of God in a life from 
many points of view like to her own. Our Beata 
must have often dwelt upon this thought. When she 
speaks of it we feel gratitude and joy overflowing 
from her heart. 

In these modest surroundings of the life at 
Nazareth, where the days follow one another bring- 
ing with them the monotonous round of the same 
labours and the same duties, amidst ordinary occu- 
pations, St Joseph became a great Saint, the Blessed 
Virgin merited to be crowned Queen of Heaven, and 
Jesus found the means of saving the world. Can 
we, then, become holy without departing from the 
^ *' Hist, d'une Ame," chap. x. 


ordinary way of life, and that while doing only the 
most commonplace things ? Yes ; and it is the genius 
of simplicity to make us discover in the very position 
which we hold the providential means of sanctifica- 
tion which the good God offers to each one of us. 

This means Blessed Therese for her part found in 
her humble life as a, Carmelite. She understood that 
she was meant to seek the secret of perfection in her 
religious life itself, and, in order to weave her web 
of sanctity, she did not go searching at a distance, 
but seized the thread ready to her hand, drawing it 
from all her actions and from the smallest events. 
On this web so slight her love embroidered virtue- 
flowers of great richness and exquisite beauty. It is 
in thus making use of quite small things that she has 
become a great saint. In vain should we seek in her 
life anything extraordinary; we should not discover 
there anything of this nature unless it be the extra- 
ordinary perfection with which she accomplished the 
most ordinary deeds. 

In that she has given proof of an admirably prac- 
tical judgement; she has shown us a very sure way of 
sanctity, for there is no fear of illusion for one who 
bases his virtue on the perfect fulfilment of the duties 
of his state. Perhaps it is no exaggeration to say that 
never did anyone have a truer conception of sanctity, 
because no one, we believe, ever conceived it with 
greater simplicity. 

1 20 


III. — Simplicity in the Practice of Virtue 

Still, one cannot become a real saint except on con- 
dition of practising all the virtues in an heroic degree. 

Blessed Therese, as we know by the official judge- 
ment of Holy Church, raised herself to this heroic 
degree of virtue in an ordinary manner. What we 
wish to draw attention to here is that even on her 
heroism she has left the mark of her simplicity. 

To consider, for example, the practice of penance 
only. There are two ways therein of showing heroism. 
One consists in having recourse to extraordinary 
means, in multiplying fasts, in depriving oneself of 
sleep, in mortifying the body with harsh hair-cloth, 
and in lacerating it with long disciplines even to 
blood. Many of the great saints have with wonder- 
ful courage practised this severe mortification, and, 
because they were guided therein by the Spirit of 
God, received through that channel abundant graces 
of sanctification for themselves and of conversion for 

The other heroic form of penance is to profit by all 
the opportunities which present themselves daily, of 
renouncing and of overcoming self. It is, as it were, 
to make mortification spring from the circumstances 
and all the events which Providence places in our 

Obviously it is this second method which is more 
suited to children. For one would hardly imagine 
a very small child given up to austerities which far 
surpass his age and strength. Rather, one pictures 
him as awaiting from his Father, who provides for all 



his needs, those of the soul as well as those of the 
body, occasions for practising virtue, not excepting 
that of penance. And, in fact, however little 
attentive he may be, he will see these opportunities 
occurring at almost every instant. 

This is exactly the way in which Blessed Therese 
understood the matter. In order, therefore, to satisfy 
her need for mortification, which, nevertheless, was 
very great, she rarely had recourse to the extra- 
ordinary penances of her choice. On one occasion, 
however, she was ill through having worn too long a 
little iron cross, of which the points had sunk into 
her flesh, and she said that this would never have 
resulted from so slight a cause had not the good God 
wished to make her understand that the macerations 
of the great saints were not for her^ nor for the little 
souls who wished to walk along the same -path of 

In truth, in order to understand these words we 
must place them in the environment in which she 
uttered them. The Carmelite rule is severe, and we 
know that Blessed Therese observed it in all its 
severity for as long a time as her strength permitted. 
She practised then, even corporally, severe austerities 
which surely amounted to a number sufficient without 
adding more. 

But a person in the world, living in abundance and 
lacking nothing, would be wrong to justify himself 
from the words of the Beata in living a slack and 
sensual life. A small amount of corporal penance is 
necessary for anyone who aspires to sanctity, as much 
1 " Hist, d'une Ame," chap. xii. 


in the world as in the cloister. What Soeur Therese 
de I'Enfant Jesus wished to make us understand here 
is, first of all, it seems to us, that for little souls 
interior mortification is of more value than corporal 
penance; and, secondly, that the best mortification 
does not consist in imitating the great macerations of 
certain saints, but in supplying their place with con- 
tinuous mortification in availing ourselves instead of 
all opportunities which offer themselves for self-denial 
or of renouncing our own ease and our tastes. 

This is what she applied herself constantly to do, 
and she was extremely ingenious in making up to 
herself in small things for that which she could not 
accomplish in great things. 

For instance, not being able to imitate the almost 
complete fast of a St Rose of Lima, she took care to 
mortify her taste continually, not in seeking always 
the worst, but in eating with the same satisfaction 
what she liked and what she did not like at all, and 
even what disagreed with her. She would deprive 
herself of drinking during the whole of a meal rather 
than cause the slightest pain to her neighbour at 
table in making her notice an involuntary neglect; 
at other times she would drink as slowly as possible 
a most bitter draught, or again, one day when she 
had been dispensed from fasting she was surprised in 
the act of seasoning with absinthe some food too 
much to her liking. 

Prevented from using at discretion some instru- 
ments of penance, by the use of which certain saints 
endeavoured to subdue their bodies, during whole 
winters she left to the cold the task of cruelly morti- 



fying her own, and her suffering was so severe that 
more than once she thought she would die. But 
because Providence allowed matters to be thus she 
never complained, nor did she ever ask for any 

In her eyes the most useful discipline is not that 
which we inflict on ourselves but that which comes 
from a certain want of consideration or attention. 
Thus when in the laundry one of the sisters, without 
noticing what she did, splashed her with dirty 
water, she saw in it only an excellent opportunity for 
mortification, gratuitously offered by Divine Provi- 
dence; and however disagreeable it might be she pur- 
posely came again and stood in the same place 
where, she said, she was presented with such precious 
treasures at so little cost. 

She did not ask to do more than to observe the 
rule, but in all that this prescribed she obliged her- 
self always to persevere to the utmost of her strength 
rather than complain. This was one of her underlying 
principles, and she had another which was — to take 
to herself whatever was the most troublesome and 
least pleasant, looking upon that as being naturally 
her due. With these two principles there was no 
need to seek outside the common life opportunities of 
penance. That was the wide-open door to heroism ; 
and how many times she crossed the threshold ! But 
this was heroism hidden, and without show, that 
which her heart preferred above all others just be- 
cause it was without show and because it bore the 
mark — so precious in her eyes — of simplicity. 

From this beautiful simplicity which gave the 


charm to her conversation, our Beata in no degree 
departed even to the end. And one day, asked by 
what name she was to be addressed when in Heaven, 
humbly she replied, You will call me — little 

They said to her again: **You will look upon us 
from the heights of Heaven, will you not?'* With 
the same simplicity she replied, Islo, I will come 
down ! 

She has "come down,'* in fact, not once, but, if 
we are to believe responsible witnesses, hundreds and 
hundreds of times, always simple and sweet, and 
always doing good. She has **come down," not 
always letting herself be seen, but to bring to the 
earth the good gifts of the good God. It has been 
easy to recognize her, for she has still her own par- 
ticular way of doing good, just as she had formerly 
her own particular way of sanctification ; even in 
her way of scattering wide her shower of roses we 
recognize the lovable simplicity of her childlike soul. 

Nor is this surprising. For in the same way that 
grace perfects nature without destroying it, so does 
glory confirm souls for ever in the state and in the 
kind of perfection in which she finds them at the 
moment when she crowns them. Thus it is that in 
Heaven * * little Therese * * has not ceased to be 
** little Therese," and has wished this fact known. 

The Church, in officially consecrating her triumph, 

has but consecrated the particular form of her virtue. 

And so, Blessed as now she is, she could not forget 

* " Conseils et Souvenirs." 



the little soul that once she was. That is why 
beneath the halo o£ Glory which now illumines her 
brow, Blessed Therese de 1' Enfant Jesus remains and 
will remain for all time that which she has always 
been, that without which she would no longer be 
herself — Little Therese. 

She has promised to "come down." May it 
please her then to incline with goodness towards 
whomsoever shall read these pages and to draw him 
after her in her little way, a truly royal way, where 
souls run when once love has enlarged their hearts; 
and may she thus from day to day increase the 
number of little souls ! May she enkindle them 
with Divine Charity ! May she transform them into 
Love ! And finally, according to her promise, may 
she lead before the throne of the Blessed Trinity a 
legion of little victims truly worthy of the merciful 
love of the good God ! 




Act of Oblation of Myself as a Victim of 
Holocaust to Merciful Love 

This writing was found after the death of the Beata in her 
book of the Holy Gospels, which day and night she carried next to 
her heart. 

O my God, Most Blessed Trinity, I desire to love 
Thee and to make Thee loved, to labour for the 
glory of Holy Church by saving souls still on earth 
and by delivering those who suffer in Purgatory. I 
desire to accomplish Thy Will perfectly, and to 
attain to the degree of glory which Thou hast pre- 
pared for me in Thy Kingdom; in one word, I 
desire to be a saint, but I know that I am power- 
less, and I implore Thee, O my God, to be Thyself 
my sanctity. 

Since Thou hast so loved me as to give me Thine 
only Son to be my Saviour and my Spouse, the 
infinite treasures of His merits are mine, to Thee I 
offer them with joy, beseeching Thee to see me only 
as in the Face of Jesus and in His Heart burning 
with Love. 

Again, I offer Thee all the merits of the saints — in 
Heaven and on earth — their acts of love and those of 
the holy angels; and finally I offer Thee, O Blessed 
Trinity, the love and the merits of the Holy Virgin, 
my most dear Mother; it is to her I entrust my 
oblation, begging her to present it to Thee. 

Her Divine Son, my well-beloved Spouse, during 


his life on earth told us : If you ask the Father any- 
thing in My Name He will give it to you.^ 

I am certain then that Thou wilt hearken to my 
desires. . . . My God, I know it, the more Thou 
wiliest to give the more dost Thou make us desire. 
Immense are the desires that I feel within my heart, 
and it is with confidence that I call upon Thee to 
come and take possession of my soul. I cannot re- 
ceive Thee in Holy Communion as often as I would ; 
but, Lord, art Thou not Almighty? . . . Remain 
in me as in the Tabernacle — never leave Thy little 

I long to console Thee for the ingratitude of the 
wicked, and I pray Thee take from me the liberty to 
displease Thee. If through frailty I fall sometimes, 
may Thy divine glance purify my soul immediately, 
consuming every imperfection — like to fire which 
transforms all things into itself. 

I thank Thee, O my God, for all the graces Thou 
hast bestowed on me, and particularly for making 
me pass through the crucible of suffering. It is with 
joy that I shall behold Thee on the Last Day bear- 
ing Thy sceptre — the Cross ; since Thou hast deigned 
to give me for my portion this most precious Cross, 
I have hope of resembling Thee in Heaven, and see- 
ing the sacred stigmata of Thy Passion shine in my 
glorified body. 

After exile on earth I hope to enjoy the possession 
of Thee in our eternal Fatherland, but I have no wish 
to amass merits for Heaven, I will work for Thy Love 
alone, my sole aim being to give Thee pleasure, to 
console Thy Sacred Heart, and to save souls who 
will love Thee for ever. 

^ John xvi 23. 


At the close of life's day, I shall appear before 
Thee with empty hands, for I ask not. Lord, that 
Thou wouldst count my works. . . . All our justice 
is tarnished in Thy sight. It is therefore my desire 
to be clothed with Thine own Justice and to receive 
from Thy Love the eternal possession of Thyself. I 
crave no other Throne, nor other Crown but Thee, 

my Beloved ! . . . 

In Thy sight time is nothing, one day is as a 
thousand years.^ 

Thou canst in an instant prepare me to appear 
before Thee. 

* That I may live in one Act of perfect Love I 
MERCIFUL LOVE, imploring Thee to consume me with- 
out ceasing, and to let the flood of infinite tender- 
ness pent up in Thee overflow into my soul, that so 

1 may become a very martyr of Thy Love, O my 

May this martyrdom, having first prepared me to 
appear before Thee, break Life's thread at last, and 
may my soul take its flight, unretarded, into the 
eternal embrace of Thy Merciful Love. 

I desire, O well-Beloved, at every heart-beat to 
renew this Oblation an infinite number of times, till 
the shadows fade away, and I can tell Thee my love 
eternally face to face ! 

(Signed) Marie Fran^oise Th^r^se de 

l' Enfant Jfisus et de la Sainte Face, 
Rel. Carm. Ind. 

Feast of the Most Holy Trinity, the 9th of June, 
in the year of grace 1895. 

^ Ps. Ixxxix 4. 

300 days Indulgence, each time recited by the 
Faithful with contrite heart and with devotion. 

A Plenary Indulgence, once a month, on the ordinary 
conditions, for those who shall have recited it 
each day during the month. 

Given at Rome (S. Poenit.). 
July 31, 1923. 

N.B. — These Indulgences are attached in perpeiuum 
to the above Act of Oblation from the * to 
the end. 

The Holy See, by recently enriching with indul- 
gences the Act of Oblation to God's Merciful Love, 
as composed by Blessed Therese, manifestly encour- 
ages its recitation. Nothing, it seems, was more 
capable of overthrowing a presumption only too 
widely spread, according to which this oblation 
would be fitting for but a few elect souls already 
perfect. The indulgences in question are offered to 
the faithful of the whole world. So, all the faithful 
are invited to offer themselves as victims of holocaust 
to the merciful Love of the good God. By that are 
the desires of Blessed Therese admirably seconded, 
and approved her prayer entreating Jesus to choose 
for Himself in this world a legion of little victims 
worthy of His Love. 

The Portraits of Blessed Th^r^se de TEnfant 

Certain criticisms have arisen against the true character of 
the portraits which are found in the edition of VHistoire d'une 
Ante. According to the opinion of many, those drawings might 
be mere constructions of the imagination, offering us ideahstic 
compositions. As such ideas tended to spread, it appeared to 
Us opportune to make a diligent research as to the origins and 
the value of the portraits called into question. 

The inquiry made by Us at the Carmel of Lisieux has re- 
vealed that there are, in the private archives of that Com- 
munity, from twelve to fifteen photographic negatives repre- 
senting various groups of the nuns, amongst whom Soeur 
Ther^se de 1' Enfant Jesus figures. Those are photographs 
taken on the private feast-days in the Convent, dating especi- 
ally from the years 1895, 1896, 1897 — that is to say, the last 
years of the Servant of God. 

From the comparison of those negatives, which control one 
another, the following conclusions clearly result : 

1. The Servant of God used sometimes to lose, at the moment 
of the pose, the natural composure of her features, and so, 
any one of the negatives examined, while being, like the others, 
a photograph without any retouching, certainly does not give 
the expected resemblance. 

2. The portrait en busts, the frontispiece of the large edition 
of UHistoire d'une A me, presents a synthesis, which is very 
conscientious and studied with the greatest care, of the best 
elements of expression furnished by the above-mentioned 

That is why We do not hesitate to recognize in that picture 
a true and authentic portrait of the Servant of God when about 
twenty-three years old. We can appreciate the value of the 
other portraits by comparing them to that standard. 

Lisieux Bishop of Bayeux and Lisieux. 

September 8, 1915. 

Note. — Nevertheless, according to what contemporaries 
say, the other portraits issued by the Carmel of Lisieux repro- 
duce faithfully, too, the features of Blessed Ther^se. Such, in 
particular, is that which represents her covering her crucifix 
with roses to symbolize her spiritual life and her God-given 
mission. Blessed Ther^se seems, moreover, to recognize 
herself in it and to give it her approval, since — as the volumes 
of the Shower of Roses testify — it is under that form she 
appears most often to her privileged ones. 

^ The same portrait appears as frontispiece of this work. 

^ A. X U {j i 

BX 4700 .T5 M3613 1923 


Martin, Gabriel, 

The "Little Way" of 

spiritual childhood : 
AZZ-4961 (sk)